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Slack in private sector investment: 74% India's manufacturers say they have no plans for capacity addition

By Our Representative
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), in its latest quarterly survey on expectations of manufacturers for the period April-June 2017, has said that “future investment outlook remains less optimistic”, with “74% respondents reporting that they don’t have any plans for capacity additions for the next six months.” Observers consider this as lingering impact of demonetization, effected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2016.
Pointing out that this just about a one per percent improvement over the earlier quarter, January-March 2017, FICCI, in its “Manufacturing Survey Report – July 2017” says “Although, the bleak investment outlook seems to be waning”, if one takes into account that in October-December 2017, which was the demonetization phase, “77% respondents had no plans for capacity addition”, things are clearly not on the upswing.
“High percentage implies slack in the private sector investments in manufacturing is there to continue for some more months”, says India’s premier industry body, adding, “Large volumes of imports, under-utilised capacities and lower domestic demand from industrial sectors are some of the major constraints which are affecting the expansion plans.”
“On a broader perspective”, the report says, “In some sectors (like chemicals, capital goods, textiles machinery, cement, metals and paper) average capacity utilization has either remained same or declined.” The only sectors which are experiencing a rise in the average capacity utilisation are “auto, textiles and electronics and electrical”, it adds.
The survey further says that the cost of production as a percentage of sales for product for manufacturers in the survey has risen significantly as 69% respondents during the period April-June 2017, against 60% respondents reported cost escalation in the previous quarter. “This is primarily due to rise in minimum wages and raw material cost”, it claims.
69% manufacturers reported a higher cost of production, as against 60% earlier, primarily due to rise in minimum wages and raw material cost
“About two-thirds of the respondents expect slightly higher production levels in the April-June 2017 (when asked for an annual comparison). This also gets reflected in the order books as similar proportion of industry participants reported higher orders for the same quarter (on a sequential basis)”, the survey says.
According to the survey, while about 67% of the respondents reportedly plan to add capacity in the next six months to the tune of about 15%, it underlines, “The expansion plans may get affected by a few delays largely due to the lag period involved in getting plant and machinery, which usually extends to about 20 weeks.”
The survey says, “Almost all of the respondents expect exports to get impacted (fall of 0-5%) due to the recent currency appreciation, while imports to get cheaper by 5-10%.”
“Close to 50% of the industry representatives expect the growth of manufacturing sector to remain same, while a few expect the growth to revive in near future”, the survey says, adding, “For a little over 50% of the respondents, cost of production as a percentage of their sales increased vis-à-vis last year”, mainly due to “inflationary pressures on raw material costs and increase in labour wages.”

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