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Itís official, growth tops 8%

New Delhi, June 30: The countryís report card shone brighter today. The economy grew 8.2 per cent in the year through the January-March quarter, aided by strong farm and service sector performance, according to data released by the government.

The data also reflected that the farm sector posted a lower-than-expected 10.5 per cent growth. It was, in fact, expected to better the 16.5 per cent rise clocked in the October-December quarter.

Much of the growth shown is of course because of the reworking of GDP figures by the government, which lowered 2003 growth figures from 4.3 per cent to 4 per cent, earlier this year. This happened after the Central Statistical Organisation reduced its estimates of farm growth fall from a negative 3.1 per cent to a hugely reduced negative 5.2 per cent, on the back of a severe drought.

The latest figures also show that the countryís GDP growth is the fastest in Asia after China, which grew 9.8 per cent in the year to January-March.

National income at 1993-94 prices is now estimated at Rs 12,52,457 crore in 2003-04 compared with the previous fiscalís estimates of Rs 11,56,714 crore, reflecting a rise of 8.3 per cent against 3.5 per cent in 2002-03.

The services sector, representing nearly half of the economy, grew 7.9 per cent in the year to the January-March quarter, while manufacturing output during the quarter stood at 7.6 per cent against 7.5 per cent in the year-ago period.

Gross domestic product for 2003-04 stood at 8.2 per cent, the strongest advance in nearly 15 years helped by the best monsoon in a decade, and up from the previous yearís 4.2 per cent.

The Southwest monsoon is a lifeline for the Indian economy and a key factor influencing the fortunes of the farm sector, which employs about 70 per cent of the population and is a key demand driver. Good rains fuel demand for big-ticket items like television sets and motorcycles.

Fiscal deficit up 14%

Fiscal deficit rose 14 per cent year-on-year to Rs 38,982 crore during April-May. Total expenditure of the government was at Rs 60,370 crore while total receipts was at Rs 21,388 crore.

The deficit was 28.6 per cent of the budgeted Rs 1,36,452 crore for 2004-05.

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