Amid much anticipation, the Union Budget 2013 was released on the last day of February. There were mixed responses from all quarters, few appreciating and applauding, while few booing. Reactions of the stock market were gloomy, as has been usual for the past several years. Indices of both the bourses – NSE and BSE slumped now and then for nearing a month and Union Budget 2013 is no exception. What is appreciative is P. Chidambaram’s target of bringing down India’s fiscal deficit to 4.8 percent of GDP next fiscal from the current 5.2 percent and several measures have been introduced for the same. But it did not have a positive impact on the reactions of the stock market.
In terms of applause from market participants, it is on the capital market, as the budget promotes broad-basing. Investor base will certainly increase in the securities, encouraging participation from households, thus increasing the investor base. The triggers are reduction of STT, increase in income limit for RGESS (3 years extension), and inclusion of mutual funds. Regarding negative reactions of stock market participants, it is on non-revival of capex cycle, lack of encouragement for participation to retail investors, new surcharge on domestic corporates, and FII tax issues. Of course highs and lows of Budget 2013 are exhibited in every industry segment including the stock market as has been noticed year after year, and it is no new phenomenon.
What are the highs and lows of Budget 2013, especially in terms of the cost factor? Things that would be costlier now are cigarettes, high-end mobile phones, set-top boxes, SUVs, imported luxury cars, yachts, silk clothes, dining in restaurants, houses, marbles, parking fees, etc. Prices have gone down for jewellery, precious stones, carpets, cotton garments, branded apparels, cinema, agricultural testing procedures, etc.
In the context of rating agencies, Union Budget 2013 seemed to be realistic. According to Moody’s Investor Service, the budget plans to meet the country’s fiscal deficit target. It further said that solutions implemented, though challenging, would earn for the country a positive credit rating. Out of the three major rating agencies including Standard & Poor’s and Fitch that gave a negative credit rating, it has been Moody’s that considered the country’s economy as stable. Had not Chidambaram taken bold decisions in the budget, the ‘junk’ status tagging would have majorly affected India’s rapport in the world market. It is now to wait and watch the ratings by the rating agencies.