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from India Insight:

Highlights – President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to parliament

The new government will pursue an economic reform agenda that foresees introducing the goods and services tax, encouraging foreign investment and speeding approvals for major business projects, President Pranab Mukherjee said in a parliamentary address on Monday.

Mukherjee also said the focus of the Modi government would be to:

- contain food inflation

- improve supply side of agro-based products

- prepare contingency plans for sub-normal monsoons

- increase public and private investments in agriculture

- address issues in farm pricing and procurement

- set up IITs and IIMs in every state

- have zero tolerance against violence against women and will strengthen criminal justice system

- tackle illegal immigration and infiltration in the north east region

- roll out broadband highways in every village in next five years

- vigorously follow up issue of black money with foreign governments

- focus on social media as a tool for participative governance

- provide predictable, fair and stable policy environment

- make every effort to introduce goods and services tax

- encourage investment through foreign direct investment

- promote labour-intensive manufacturing, tourism for job creation

- move towards a single-window system of clearances to promote manufacturing

- fast-track investment friendly public, private partnership

- liberalise foreign direct investments in defence

- encourage private investments in defence production

- implement reforms in defence procurement

- take up modernisation and revamp of railways on priority

- chalk out infrastructure development programmes for high-speed rails, roads and airports

- launch comprehensive national energy policy and focus on increasing electricity generation

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:

Abhijit Mukherjee’s foot-in-mukh moment steals spotlight from rape cases

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

India is angry. India is protesting. Rallies continue in New Delhi after the gang rape of a 23-year-old girl on Dec. 16. The rapes continue too. On Wednesday night, three men reportedly raped a 42-year-old woman and dumped her in South Delhi. There are more cases being reported every day.

from India Insight:

Congress strikes two birds with one stone

Why so much euphoria over the presidential polls? Shouldn’t the government concentrate on the economy; it’s a ceremonial post after all, we thought.

However, the way the election process panned out might be the boost the Congress party needed ahead of the 2014 general elections, not only politically, but even for the economy.

from India Insight:

Mr Pranab Mukherjee, did we hear ‘austerity’?

India is going through a rough patch. The common man knows it, foreign investors know it and so does our government.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also one of the contenders for the post of president, has been trying his best to clear the air and restore the confidence to get the economy back on track.

from India Insight:

As the economy and markets struggle, India needs tough actions

Slowing growth, a falling rupee, sliding stock markets, a rising current account deficit, drying foreign inflows and policy paralysis at the centre. Things certainly don’t look rosy for India.

With the rupee down 22 percent in the last 10 months and a 6 percent drop in stock markets so far in May (as of Friday’s close), is it time for the government to seriously rethink its strategy ahead of the 2014 general elections?

from Expert Zone:

Will Subbarao oblige Mukherjee?

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

"The government will be forced to take difficult decisions," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a FICCI event while expressing hope of a "reversal of the policy rate which should help in improving business sentiments".

from The Great Debate (India):

What do you expect from Budget 2012/13?

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the annual budget in parliament on March 16.

The Direct Taxes Code (DTC) will be in focus this year. Individuals will seek more clarity on income tax slabs and the investment instruments eligible for tax exemptions. Options like tax-saving funds (ELSS) may no longer be eligible for tax breaks going ahead.

from India Insight:

Budget 2010: Reactions from the common man

Rohan Dua spoke to people on the streets of New Delhi as Pranab Mukherjee tabled the 2010/11 Budget in parliament –

from Money on the markets:

How to rate the budget?

INDIA-BUDGET/When the finance minister presents the budget, the stock market moves one way or the other.

And like every year this will dominate the news.

Over there and everywhere.

Is that fair? Or convincing?

Some of the analysis will follow a pattern.

If the stock market goes up, the budget may be described as successful because it didn’t “rock the boat”.

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