A fuel shortage slows India’s economic growth

India has struggled to

provide enough electricity to power its industry. New power stations have been built but the country cannot get enough fuel, mainly coal, to run the power stations. About 55% of

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India’s electricity is generated by the use of coal. India has one of the world’s largest reserves of coal but has not been able to exploit it. The state-owned Coal India, which has a monopoly control of 80% of production, is required by government policy to sell coal at a 70% discount below the market price.

There has been almost no new investment in coal production by either the Government or the private sector according to industrialists who struggle with the daily loss of electric power. Coal production increased by 1% in 2012 while electricity-generating capacity increased by 11%. Some coal is imported but this has now become very expensive as India’s chief supplier, Indonesia, has doubled prices of its coal.

Attempts to open new areas to mining have met with strong opposition from environmental regulators who have blocked the plans because, it is claimed, the development would destroy dense forests.

The electricity sector’s problems have contributed to a second year of decreasing economic growth for India. The growth rate was 10% in 2010 but only an estimated 7% in 2012. A complex system of price controls has resulted in retail electricity prices being lower than the cost of producing power, which has caused large losses at state-owned electricity-generating industries.

Businesses report that frequent losses of electric power have forced them to lower production and spend significantly more on diesel fuel to run back-up generators. Analysts say that the reduced rate of economic growth could have been avoided if policymakers had addressed the problems of electricity shortage, weak infrastructure and restrictive regulations.

Questions:

1.                  Lack of consumer spending causes recessions. Recessions do not improve a country’s standard of living. It is always better, therefore, to encourage consumer spending for this improves a country’s standard of living.’

a. What is a recession and is it always caused by a lack of consumer spending?

b. Discuss what policies a government may use to try and end a recession.

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