Rupee could be hit by Greek crisis: Government

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) The Indian government on Monday said it was closely monitoring the Greek situation and euro market movements after austerity proposals by creditors being rejeted in a referendum posed the possibility of the country’s exit from the euro zone, while the rupee may be affected due to the outward flight of investment.

“In these situations what mostly happens is there is flight to dollars, to a safe haven. Rupee might also be affected by that. But nothing gets unusual at all so far,” Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian told reporters here.

“This is a drama which is going to play out for some time. We are well protected in at least three ways. Our macro-economic situation is much more stable. We have reserves. We are an economy which is still a very attractive investment destination. So I think we are relatively well insulated,” he said.

“As for the crisis itself, it is going to going to be long and prolonged,” he added.

Over 61 percent of Greeks voted “no” on Sunday, responding overwhelmingly to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ calls to reject a proposal by the country’s creditors for more austerity in exchange for a financial bailout.

On possible impact of the crisis on Indian economy, Subramanian said that as the crisis plays out, “financial markets are going to be volatile. Both the ECB (European Central Bank) and Fed (US Federal Reserve) will take this into account”.

“We will have to see how the euro moves now. We are closely monitoring the Greek situation. There could be some reaction on the Fed rate hike,” Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said.

He had last week expressed apprehension that if yields on euro bonds go up, it might impact inflows and outflows from India.

Indian industry feels that if a crisis developed for Europe due to Greece, India too could feel the tremors like the rest of the world.

“What is worrying is that the overall situation with regard to India’s merchandise exports does not look promising this year and the troubles in Europe could only deteriorate the prospects,” the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a statement here.

“There is a need for RBI and the finance ministry to keep a close eye on the muddy global situation and its possible effect on India’s capital flows and the currency movement,” it added.

India’s merchandise exports continued to decline for the second month this fiscal, down by over 20 percent at $22.35 billion in May from $27.99 billion in the same month of the previous year, official data showed last month.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has warned that the continuing decline in exports would result in layoffs, besides putting pressure on the current account deficit (CAD).

FIEO president S.C. Ralhan also agreed with RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan’s recent remarks that the central banks globally were at risk of slipping into the kind of beggar-thy-neighbour strategies, leading to the Great Depression of the 1930s again.

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