This is just a flavour of some of the text messages that this writer has received over the last couple of days from pump and dump operators. Cartels operating in clear contravention of the law are busy ramping up share prices of dubious companies.
Thursday’s budget presentation by finance minister Arun Jaitley, was widely in line with the expectations laid out earlier to tackle rural distress head on. On that count, this budget is indeed the much-needed fillip to the flagging rural economy, targeting doubling of farmer income by 2022.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement that India is a $2.5 trillion economy and the world’s fastest-growing, is a heartening one. This sense of optimism was the hallmark of the budget 2018-19 and it encapsulated the vision of a ‘New India’ by 2022. The overarching sense was one of urgency to get the growth of the nation going with empowering sectors with tools for their fillip. The budget was focussed on pushing forward the critical segments of the economy, from infrastructure, micro small and medium businesses, education and skill development to agriculture.
The government has attempted to have a balance between populism and pragmatism in this budget, and, as expected, has come up with some ups and downs. Some of the ups being reduction in corporate tax rates, standard deduction for salaried taxpayers and additional exemption and deductions for senior citizens. It is also worth noting that there is no introduction of Estate Duty (inheritance tax), which was rumoured to be re-introduced.
Budget day was as volatile as volatility should be. The BSE SENSEX made an intraday high of 36,256 points and a low of 35,501, an intraday swing of 755 points. The net change was a loss of 58.36 points or 0.16 per cent. Similar numbers for NIFTY was a high of 11,117 points and a low of 10,878 points. The swing was 229 points while the net change was a loss of 10.80 points or 0.10 per cent. What spooked the market was the introduction of LTCG or long-term capital gains. It was more or less on expected lines and the only surprise was the exemption limit of just Rs 1 lakh.
In the days leading up to the annual budget whirligig, this newspaper’s team focused on several stories scooping key ingredients of what would be rural, rural and a more farm focused budget. It went beyond the pale and even predicted that a universal health plan for the poor was on the anvil. We got it right, but that is our job. The budget is a vote catcher, its centrifugal force revolves around the acute farm distress and agrarian crisis, mono typical primarily because there is a food glut and yet pricing erosion is playing havoc with home steads in Bharat.
Reiterating its commitment of doubling of farmer’s income by the year 2022 the Economic Survey has identified agriculture, education and employment to be the focus area for the next budget.
Limited sway: deficits, direct taxation, but LT equities tax: We see little possibility that budget 2018 delivers reasons for material upside to an already inflated equity market in India. Fiscal expansion (higher deficits) could have created some excitement, but we expect government to stay at 3.2 per cent of GDP for FY19. Indirect taxation is now decided by the GST Council; we expect any budgetary changes to direct taxation to have modest impact on personal disposable incomes or corporate profits.
This year’s budget is going to be a particularly interesting, not just because it is the last full budget of PM Modi’s tenure but also because it is the first budget after the big-bang GST reform rolled out. With dwindling macros and simultaneous pressure around political dominance, the government may face difficulties in pulling off a balancing act. However, having said that, we hope the government continues to be biased towards economic welfare and fiscal prudence.
With an eventful year gone by and some positive progress in reforms for the Indian economy, India Inc. and Indian citizens are now eagerly looking forward to the upcoming Union budget 2018. There are huge expectations in terms of various developments that would help to move a step ahead towards the overall economic growth. Talking about growth, I would like to emphasise on the oil and gas sector which is one of the most crucial sector for the nation’s development, and is serving as a critical source of energy for India in the present and the foreseeable future.