Union Budget 2019: Despite the global crude oil price crash in 2014 and 2015, which came as a windfall for the Modi 1.0 government, India's import bill has ballooned in the past decade. Total imports have shot up 75 per cent since 2009-10. On Prime Minister Narendra Modi's watch, imports went up by around 17 per cent compared to 51 per cent under the UPA-II. However, in FY19, total imports hit at least a 15-year peak of $637 billion while total exports were at $534 billion.
While goods imports went up 55 per cent under the Manmohan Singh government's second term, services imports increased by less than 32 per cent. In contrast, between FY15 and FY19 under Modi, services imports shot up nearly 53 per cent but goods imports went up only 11.23 per cent.
According to experts, in the near term, India's import bill is unlikely to rise much unless crude oil prices see an unanticipated spike. Given that India is the world's third-biggest oil importer, relying on foreign countries for 80 per cent of its oil needs, any price spike will inflate the import bill and disrupt the country's fiscal position.
The import bill crossed $45 billion in May while the trade deficit widened to a six-month high at $15.36 billion. Data released by the Ministry of Commerce showed a 8.23 per cent jump in oil imports to $12.44 billion in May while gold imports went up by 37.43 per cent to $4.78 billion. On the whole non-oil imports expanded by 2.9 per cent.
FULL COVERAGE: Union Budget 2019
In order to reduce India's dependence on imports, the Modi 2.0 government has set up a committee under Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha to identify products which can be made in the country. Secretaries from the departments of commerce, industrial policy and promotion, skill development, revenue, defence production, steel, petroleum, electronics and telecommunications will also be a part of the panel. This ties in neatly with the Modi government's Make in India mission. The BJP election 2019 manifesto also outlines a goal to make the country a global manufacturing hub over the next five years.
With PTI inputs