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Emerging Asia Must Move to End Crisis-Era Spending: IMF
Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
Source Date: Saturday, October 09, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Created: Oct 10, 2010

WASHINGTON: Asian governments should move more quickly to withdraw crisis-era spending, the International Monetary Fund said on Saturday, eyeing creeping inflation in the region.

"The main policy challenge for the region remains to manage the exit from the policy stimulus, now the recovery is underway," said Anoop Singh, the IMF's top official for Asia.

Warning of "emerging signs of inflationary pressure," Singh welcomed moves to unravel massive spending that was needed to prop up several countries in the region following the global financial crisis.

"Monetary and fiscal policies are still generally accommodative, but the region can clearly accelerate its pace," he said on the margins of the IMF's annual meetings in Washington.

Japan -- which continues to struggle with an anemic recovery -- is an exception, he added.

According to the IMF , Asian economies will expand an average 7.9 per cent this year before slowing to 6.7 per cent in 2011, as stimulus measures introduced to combat the global financial crisis are withdrawn.

Japan' economy is expected to expand a more meager 2.8 per cent in 2010, before slowing to 1.5 per cent in 2011.

Japan's cabinet on Friday approved a new emergency stimulus package worth 61.3 billion dollars to help shore up an economy hit hard by deflation and the impact of a strong yen.

But the fate of the package and the budget will hang on Prime Minister Naoto Kan's ability to muster the support of opposition lawmakers to pass them through parliament, given the ruling party's lack of a clear majority.

The stimulus is the Kan administration's second since it came to power in June and includes job programs, welfare spending and programs for small businesses and infrastructure.

But for other Asian nations, Singh said moves were necessary.

Beijing responded swiftly to the global recession, unleashing a four-trillion-yuan (586-billion-dollar) stimulus package in late 2008 and ordering state-owned banks to boost lending to spur economic activity.

Some observers have warned that China faces a potential "hangover" from the government's spending spree, such as an increase in bad debts.

In India, stimulus measures were introduced in late 2008 to help the country out of the global economic slowdown.

The measures currently account for some 12 per cent of GDP, while the central bank has injected 120 billion dollars into the economy since October 2008 by slashing rates and taking other measures to boost business.

Last month the Reserve Bank of India took a key first step away from its aggressively expansionist stance, to keep a lid on resurgent inflation.

It siphoned off excess liquidity from the financial system by raising the cash-reserve ratio -- the percentage amount commercial banks must keep on deposit -- by 75 basis points to 5.75 per cent.
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