"Moody's has upgraded the government of India's local and foreign currency issuer ratings to Baa2 from Baa3 and changed the outlook on the rating to stable from positive", the worldwide rating agency said in a release on Friday, adding that the government's wide-ranging economic and institutional reforms will improve the business climate and foster strong and sustainable growth. This upgrade puts Moody's one notch ahead of Fitch and S&P, which now has India on BBB- (stable), noted ANZ in a research report. Baa2 rating means investment grade with moderate credit risk, which is two notches above the junk grade.
"While a number of important reforms remain at the design phase, Moody's believes that those implemented to date will advance the government's objective of improving the business climate, enhancing productivity, stimulating foreign and domestic investment, and ultimately fostering strong and sustainable growth", it said.
Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, whose Economic Survey had a piece on the "poor standards" of the rating agencies, echoed these sentiments, noting that the upgrade was long overdue.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Saturday said the upgradation of India's rating by United States credit rating agency Moody's was not in sync with the "mood of the people".
"On the fiscal front, efforts to improve transparency and accountability, including through adoption of a new Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, are expected to enhance India's fiscal policy framework and strengthen policy credibility", it said.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the Government will stay on the path of good governance and focus on effective delivery to people.
Terming the ratings upgrade by Moody's as a "positive measure", SBI (State Bank of India) chairman Rajnish Kumar said it will make foreign funds cheaper for both corporates as well as his bank. The resolution of bank non-performing assets would be of supreme significance to revive the investment cycle and economic growth, stated ANZ. "The reform program will thus complement the existing shock-absorbance capacity provided by India's strong growth potential and improving global competitiveness".
"It is an upgrade that has happened after 13 years". Moody's cautioned that a material deterioration in fiscal metrics and the outlook for general Government fiscal consolidation would put negative pressure on the rating.The rating could also face downward pressure if the health of the banking system deteriorates significantly or external vulnerability increases sharply.
"Fiscal prudence has helped India to get Moody's upgrade", the finance minister said. While GST and demonetisation have undermined growth over the near term, real GDP growth will rise to 7.5 per cent in 2018-19 as disruption fades, it said. Ratings changes are very slow, infrequent and at most times move with a lag to market expectations, he said.
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