Budget Comments by Nilesh Shah, Group President & Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company and a part-time Member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council
I would like to reference an old Hindi movie called Sita and Gita for this Budget.
This Budget is the transition of India from Sita or Gita.
In Sita Aur Gita, there is one Hema Malini who is shy, introvert and fearful.
Then there is another Hema Malini who is brave, extrovert and who is not afraid of anything.
It is a Sita to Gita transformation of India, from introvert to extrovert, from weak player to dominant economic player.
It is a Budget where philosophy matters more than the numbers.
It’s a Budget of Aatmanirbhar Bharat which is messaging Rating Agencies that it will maintain the path of fiscal prudence on our terms and raise fiscal deficit when necessary to support our economy like western countries .
It is a Budget of confident India, which is saying that we want to be a dominant economic player in a post-Covid world and for that, we will encourage domestic industry through incentives under Production Linked Incentive scheme, through protection from Chinese dumping by levying import duty and by encouraging entrepreneurs with minimum government and maximum governance.
It is a Budget of bold India, which is saying that we will vaccinate our population against Covid-19 by not only spending Rs. 35,000 crore or more if needed, but by also providing the vaccine to the rest of the world.
We also acknowledge our underinvestment in the healthcare sector for decades, We are now willing to increase spending by more than 100% to fund it so that we are better equipped to handle next crisis.
This is a Budget of self-reliant India which is saying that we will equip our army with all the resources that are needed to defend the sovereignty of our country on multiple fronts.
This is a Budget of transformed India discarding the constraints of the past.
It’s bringing down the citadel of public sector saying that we will do strategic divestment of public sector institutions, including banks, and we will restrict government or public sector presence in four strategic areas.
We will become a referee rather than a player, we will give market forces and entrepreneurs an opportunity to create wealth.
This is the path which Southeast Asian countries, Eastern European nations and Latin American countries follow for prosperity.
We are late by seven decades but now, we want to tread on that path.
This is a Budget of an ambitious India which is willing to grow by making investments.
For all these years, we were an infrastructure deficient country.
Now we are moving into an infrastructure surplus country.
This is the highest ever capital expenditure done by a Budget and it is being spent on roads, railways, health care and education.
From a market perspective, it should welcome this pro-growth Budget.
The trajectory of markets will be determined by how we execute this Budget and how the global market plays out.
It’s not that markets will continue to rise every day.
By nature, it will go up and down.
But markets have been supported by this Budget.
Foreign portfolio investors today turned buyers after a couple of days of selling and like domestic investors, they will celebrate this bold, ambitious transformative Budget.
Another aspect that I would like to focus on is the scrappage policy.
In any other country’s capital, scrappage policy would have become compulsory rather than voluntary.
But in India, being a democracy, we have to carry all the vested interest along with us.
This makes us lose our speed and puts pressure in the sense of sometimes moving in the right direction.
But sure enough, we are a democracy, we have to adhere to the limitations of democracy.
But if we execute this Budget well, I think it will create a foundation for double-digit growth in the days to come.
This is truly confident India taking on the world by making investments.
I hope we just continue this through fine execution.