Warning that the months ahead are difficult, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the growth rate could fall below 7% in the current financial year from 8.5% a year ago.
"...we have difficult 2 -3 months in the current fiscal. Our growth for 2011-12 may be around 7% plus or even less than that. There are also concerns about central government finances for the current fiscal", he said while speaking at the CNBC TV18 Business Leadership award function.
He, however, expressed hope that the Reserve Bank would take appropriate steps in its forthcoming monetary policy review on January 24 to keep the growth momentum.
"Going forward, I am sure RBI will take into account important concerns of balancing the targets of controlling inflation and keeping up growth and employment generation," he said.
The economic growth during the first half of the current fiscal has slipped to 7.3% from 8.6% in the corresponding period a year ago.
On fiscal deficit, he said the performance during the first half of 2011-12 poses some risks on both receipts as well as expenditure.
"Adhering to the fiscal deficit target of 4.6% of GDP in 2011-12 is a major challenge," he said.
The government proposes to bring down the fiscal deficit in the current fiscal to 4.6% of the GDP from 4.7% a year ago. However, the surge in subsidy bill and poor realisation from disinvestment has made the task difficult.
According to official estimates, the subsidy bill of the government is likely to exceed by about Rs 1 lakh crore during 2011-12. As far as disinvestment is concerned, the government has been able to mop up around Rs 1,100 crore only against the target of Rs 40,000 crore.