Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Budget 2014/15 reveals priorities, sets the stage

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

The new Narendra Modi government rides on a long wishlist of policies and reforms, with limited resources. Budget 2014/15, as expected, reveals the government’s priorities in the near and medium term.

Arun Jaitley poses as he leaves his office to present the union budget for the 2014/15 fiscal year in New DelhiThe inflation moderation imperative overshadows near-term headline growth desires, manifested in aggressive (albeit challenging) fiscal deficit targets. The projected fiscal deficit of 4.1 percent (3.6 percent of GDP in FY16) versus the 4.6 percent recorded in FY14, is in line with expectations. The reduction in the budget deficit is driven by hoped-for revenue growth rather than depressed spending growth.

The spending mix is forecast to improve towards more plan and capital spending, which should bode well for the growth outlook. Curtailed non-plan spending growth and subsidies are also a positive.

This budget sets the stage for a future pick-up in growth, rather than drive acceleration in real GDP this year. It does outline both policy initiatives as well as specific schemes (albeit with yet limited fund allocation) to support medium-term growth recovery.

The primacy of good governance for Modi

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

At his second cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 10-point programme that set out a comprehensive agenda for his ministers. The agenda is a good cocktail of short-term needs and long-term objectives.

The underlying message, however, is of good governance. That is what Modi has been harping on during his election campaign and which he sincerely believes is the secret of his success in Gujarat.

Steps the next government should take

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

India’s economy is tottering, inflation is too high and growth too low. The Congress-led UPA government allowed the economy to drift during its second term. Why? Because it did not focus on real issues, failed to govern effectively and did not carry out any significant reforms.

New legislation became almost impossible, with coalition partners such as the TMC and DMK threatening to pull out (and they eventually did). On top of that, successive scams made it impossible for the government to function normally.

India Markets Weekahead: Cash is king

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

Around mid-week, the Indian markets seemed akin to a sinking ship which saw unabated selling with Nifty hitting a low of 5,168 on Wednesday, before recovering sharply to close the week at 5,471 on the hopes of concrete action by the government to shore up the sentiments and the Reserve Bank of India’s moves to save the rupee.

The street expected structural reforms from the government to tackle this crisis whereas the textbook solutions of the RBI and the government backfired. The rupee cracked to touch 69/dollar, but recovered to close the week at 66.55.

Asian financial crisis and lessons for India

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

Several economists have gone to great lengths to say that India in 2013 is not facing a repeat of the 1991 balance-of-payments crisis or the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Clearly, the crisis India faces now is unique – as most economic crises usually are.

That does not mean there is nothing to be learnt from past crises. We believe there are several similarities between the Asian one and India’s situation today.

India Markets Weekahead – Volatility seen as RBI policy review in focus

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

Volatility is here to stay and trying to predict the markets on a daily basis is a futile exercise. It’s no better than tossing a coin.

Monsoon rains are early and heavier then normal, raising the hopes of green shoots in the next few months. Macro numbers were showing signs of bottoming out but the rupee slide has thrown calculations awry. A feeble request by the finance minister urging people to shun gold won’t do much good in a country enamoured by gold.

Budget 2013: High on expectations again

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

It’s budget time in India once again, the annual month of anxiety and expectations that everyone awaits with bated breath.

Budget 2013 will be especially important on two counts. Coming as it does ahead of crucial state elections, the Feb. 28 budget could be outrageously populist. But with the government not really following through on its policy reforms in recent months, the question is how intent can translate to concrete action. Tough decisions are needed with a greater focus on growth.

The year the Indian economy stalled

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

The year 2012 has seen the worst an emerging market economy can tolerate. Had the government been a little less reticent and more proactive, growth would not have dropped this low in spite of the economy being mauled by inflation. Other emerging market economies did exactly that.

Will Indian stocks end 2012 on a happier note?

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(Rajiv Deep Bajaj is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Capital Ltd. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The rally in the Indian stock markets, fuelled by the so-called reform announcements, seems to have fizzled out. Frontline indexes have retraced more than 60 percent of the gains made since Sep. 13, 2012, the day the reform measures were made public.

Yet another infructuous parliament session?

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

The last session of parliament was a washout. The present one looks to be no different going by its chaotic start.

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