Representational image: iStock
Indian five hundred rupee currency notes. Image: iStock

While the Indian economy is battling a downturn with consumption falling and the growth in gross domestic product at record lows, rating agency Standard and Poor (S&P) has expressed concern over the country’s weak public finances and low per capita income compared with similarly-rated economies.

This observation has come ahead of the rating agency’s annual review of the country and hence chances of a sovereign rating upgrade for the country in the near future appear dim.

S&P has kept India’s sovereign rating unchanged at the lowest investment grade, BBB-, since 2007, citing the country’s sizable fiscal deficit, high general government debt levels and low per capita income.

The representatives of S&P met officials of the Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday, the government planning body Niti Aayog on Wednesday and the finance ministry on Thursday to gather feedback from policymakers on macroeconomic indicators and the latest developments in the economy, reports Financial Express.

The rating agency had in July said that general government deficits in India will remain elevated, despite the marginal decline at the central government level to 3.3% of GDP this fiscal year projected in the budget.

As for per capita income, India continues to be a lower-middle-income country, while neighboring Sri Lanka has climbed to the upper-middle-income group for the fiscal year 2020, according to the World Bank’s classification of countries by income levels released on July 1. India’s gross national income stood at US$2020, while that of Sri Lanka was $4,060.

Among BRICS countries India is the only one to figure in the lower-middle-income group, while others – Brazil ($9,140), Russia ($10,230), China ($9,470) and South Africa ($5,720) – fall in the upper-middle-income group.

S&P had earlier refused to join its peer Moody’s which raised its rating for the country by a notch from Baa3 (lowest investment grade) to Baa2 in November 2017 in recognition of reforms undertaken in recent years.

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