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from Expert Zone:

Budget 2013: A rather ambitious budget

(Rajan Ghotgalkar is Managing Director of Principal Pnb Asset Management Company. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of either Principal Pnb or Reuters)

Rating agencies have left India’s sovereign rating unchanged after the 2013 Budget. A rating downgrade would mean India getting junk status which is certainly not something one would want when the current account deficit is widening.

Of course, despite our proud finance minister not admitting to letting rating agencies dictate his budget, I am relieved that the nearest and sweetest low-hanging fruit fell into his lap.

In the post-liberalisation years, I have often wondered about the diminishing relevance of the budget. India’s macro-economic challenges stem almost entirely from structural imbalances and none of these can be addressed in the budget, which is at best a summary of the fiscal impact of initiatives driven by numerous ministries. The poor finance minister bears the brunt of the limelight.

from India Insight:

Chidambaram’s ‘Hangout’ debut: learning from Modi, a lesson for others

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)

P. Chidambaram’s budget announcements might not have pleased everyone, but the finance minister has done reasonable work in the recent months to improve market sentiment and shed the ruling coalition’s "business as usual" image.

from Expert Zone:

Budget 2013: Chidambaram’s chance to bell the cat

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Reuters)

This year’s budget will be an interesting one and it will hopefully be more pragmatic than populist.

Not much has changed since Pranab Mukherjee presented the budget in 2012. At the time, India was battling high inflation at 9 percent, fiscal deficit at 5.9 percent of GDP and a current account deficit (CAD) at 4.2 percent of GDP.

from India Insight:

India ponders deficit control after the gold rush

India's central government in January raised the tax on refined gold imports by 50 percent. This increase to 6 percent from 4 percent is the second rise this fiscal year. Why does it keep making gold more expensive, particularly as the nation enters its prime wedding season when brides will be bedecked with the metal from head to toe?

That's part of the problem -- a large part. India's cultural attachment to gold is something that anybody who has been to an Indian wedding could tell you about. For those of you who haven't, consider this report from CBS's "60 Minutes" TV news program:

from Expert Zone:

What we want to see in Budget 2013

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of Reuters)

Over 15 years have passed since P. Chidambaram presented what was called the ‘dream budget’. It was a budget that changed the discourse of financial policy and offered a vision of India matching the growth and dynamism of the tiger economies of Southeast Asia.

In the last full budget of his government’s term, the finance minister once again has a chance to alter the discourse of policy away from handouts and towards efficiency. Our advice to him is to be as bold in ideas as his conviction permits and as ruthless in execution as the law allows. A few ideas for him to chew on:

from India Insight:

A look at India’s last five annual budgets

The countdown has begun for the biggest business and economic event of the year, the release of India's annual budget at the end of February, and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has a tough job on his hands. With general elections a year away, he must please voters, boost growth and control deficits.

In the last five years, the finance minister has always relaxed income tax slabs -- by either increasing the basic exemption limit or widening the tax slabs. As far as markets go, the 2009 budget day was the worst for stocks as the index fell around 950 points during trade. However, the focus has always been on the government's fiscal deficit targets, which have hovered around the 5 percent mark in recent years.

from India Insight:

Understanding the repo rate, cash reserve ratio and the Reserve Bank of India

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday cut the repo rate as well as the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 25 basis points, or 0.25 percent. Here's a quick explanation of what that means. It will be obvious to some readers, but many people haven't studied economics and are unfamiliar with the terms.

The repo rate, which now stands at 7.75 percent, is the rate at which the central bank lends money to Indian banks. As the repo rate goes down, it gets cheaper for banks to borrow money. That makes it easier for people to borrow money at cheaper rates too. As more people borrow money, which ought to be the result of action like this, they'll spend more money. That's good for the Indian economy.

from Expert Zone:

India Market Weekahead: Buy on dips with no roadblocks till budget

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

There wasn't much point-to-point movement on the Nifty but it was not a listless week by any standard.