Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Higher tax revenue from higher growth

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

The 2013-14 budget got completely out of hand because of a whopping shortfall in tax revenue. Development outlays had to be drastically cut to manage the fiscal deficit.

The key to the budget is revenue. The ratio of gross tax revenue to GDP reached a high of 11.9 percent when GDP growth was at its peak of more than 9 percent in 2007-08. Since then, both declined and the ratio has been in the narrow range of 10-10.7 percent. GDP growth is a painless way of raising revenue.

Not all sectors, however, contribute to tax revenue to the same extent as they do to GDP. Agriculture, for instance, generates 18 percent of India’s GDP but is out of the tax net. More than 60 percent of tax revenue is derived from industry in the form of corporation tax, excise and customs although it generates less than 20 percent of GDP. Industrial growth is an effective vehicle for tax revenue.

The 2013-14 budget was unbalanced because there was no real industrial growth, but only an increase in prices. As a result, tax revenue was 6.3 percent short of the target. The fall was mainly in respect of corporation tax, which is about a third of the gross tax revenue.

Is gold a good investment once again?

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

The increase in gold prices in the last two months has rekindled interest in the yellow metal as a vehicle for investment. It was after the 2008 global financial crisis that gold became the most preferred asset, with prices doubling in four years.

Why was gold preferred? It was not so much as a hedge against inflation but as an insurance against uncertainty. When the economy is faltering and the future looks bleak, gold becomes a preferred asset.

Time for a relook at FDI in insurance intermediaries

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

Insurance companies in India have an FDI limit of 26 percent, which may be revised upwards in the coming months. The industry requires funds to grow and the revision can be an enabler, but the process may take some time as it requires legislative approval and there seems to be some opposition to the move.

Since the industry is still in its nascent stage, the insurance regulator also places the same FDI cap on insurance intermediaries such as brokers and web aggregators, severely limiting their ability to raise funds to grow their business.

Time for real reforms, but low-hanging fruits remain

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

What seemed to be a lost cause merely three months ago has staged a remarkable comeback: the Indian government’s zeal for reform. After many months of dithering, the ruling Congress party remembered that it had the spine to stand up to fierce opposition from various state governments, finally getting its way on certain measures.

Great potential in India long-term growth story

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(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)

Reforms seem to be the flavour of the season after we relished and put aside the corruption issue.

Lack of retirement planning options

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

Unlike people in developed nations such as the U.S. and Europe, people in India are known for their conservative habit of saving. The need for regular income after retirement is a concern that haunts most Indians.

2012 – Boom or Doom?

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

What a year 2011 has been. Except certain commodities such as gold and oil, every other asset class has been hit. With Sensex down more than 20 pct YTD, 10 year g-sec yields up by almost 1 pct and rupee down by almost 14 pct against the dollar, it has been a poor year for investors. This was caused by a bout of strong global risk aversion led by the European sovereign debt crisis, high inflation in emerging markets and consequent monetary tightening, and lack of proper policy action in India. The only salvation came from commodities such as oil (up almost 26 pct in rupee terms) and gold (up almost 38 pct in rupee terms).

Indian stocks: Paradise for value investors

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

The BSE Sensex romance with the 16,000 level seems to have been rekindled, with the Sensex closing below it on August 26, after a gap of more than 18 months during which it touched a high of 21,109 (missing the all-time high of 21,207 by a whisker).

Where is the Indian stock market heading?

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

The BSE Sensex has left us guessing about where it is headed. It’s not an easy task considering it had touched 20,509 in Jan 2010 and peaked at 21,207 in Jan 2008.

Watch out for early signs of peaking inflation and slowing growth

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

Indian equities, after recovering smartly during much of 2009 and 2010, have again started exhibiting high volatility over the last six months. At a global level, this time it is emerging markets which are leading the downside in equities. Even among emerging markets, Indian stocks have looked weaker.

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