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Budget 2016: Will review medium term fiscal framework, says govt

3.50 pm: The FM hands over the mic to each of his ministry’s top officials. Finance Secretary Ratan Watal talks tough, says the government will review the medium-term fiscal framework and adds that it will also take steps to ensure subsidy leakages are contained.

3.40 pm:

The Finance Minister, along with the battery of officials from the Ministry, is addressing a press conference.

3.30 pm: The Sensex has closed 150 points lower, fair compared to the intra-day move. The total intra-day move was 849 points. Bank Nifty outperforms, closes up 1 percent.

3.10 pm: The Budget has laid down the highest ever allocation to the PM Gram Sadak Yojana, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It will help in linking all villages with roads by 2019.”

2.50 pm: Sector reactions now coming in.

PwC India tax partner and real estate expert Bhairav Dalal says, “‘Housing for all’ seemed to be the flavour of the real estate part of Budget today. The direct and indirect tax benefits for affordable housing should catapult the Smart city initiative. Additional deduction of interest would incentivise the first home buyers to own the houses. The REIT/InvIT market should finally take off now that the Finance Minister has granted dividend distribution tax exemption.”

2.36 pm: After seesawing wildly, the market is now almost back to flat. ONGC shares have suddenly tanked over 8 percent — something to do with the market’s expectation of re-imposition of customs duty on a product not coming through.

2.32 pm: Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia is talking about the Budget. Catch the live update below.

2.30 pm: Sinha also talks about the rumour that was swirling about the LTCG tax, says it was just that. The government is “crystal clear” about not increasing the duration of the LTCG ambit, he says.

2.20 pm: The MoS Finance tries to lessen the market’s disappointment with the bank recapitalization figure, says the government stands solidly behind the banks and that the commitment is more important than any number.

2.10 pm: CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan is speaking to Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha.

Watch CNBC-TV18 here .

2.05 pm: Here is how the government earns every rupee and how it spends. Infograph courtesy: Finance Ministry.

2.00 pm: Political reactions to the Budget are now coming in.

“It’s a very big Budget. Funding has been increased a lot for irrigation, roads. Presents a good opportunity to bring back black money. Let’s see how it is implemented,” says BJD’s Jay Panda.

“It’s a good Budget. There seems to be an attempt to take from the very rich and give it to the poor,” says former BJP Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha who had of late been critical of the government.

“We have to see what the implementation will be like,” says Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. “We are happy to see how the government has adopted UPA’s schemes like Aadhaar and have learnt from our Budget.”

1.55 pm: Fine print coming in for today’s Budget: foreign companies can increase stake in local stock exchanges to 15 percent from 5 percent.

During the speech, the FM had announced changes in the FDI policy for insurance and pension, asset reconstruction companies and stock exchanges.

1.45 pm: 
“There is tax relief for low income earners who live on rent but do not get HRA – they can reduce Rs 36,000 from their gross taxable income. This deduction was stuck in time and will be helpful for taxpayers in non-HRA category,” says Archit Gupta, CEO and Founder, ClearTax.in.

1.30 pm: For those who just tuned in, the government has put together the key highlights of the Union Budget 2016. Here are they .

1.25 pm: Banker Deepak Parekh too points out that the government’s divestment record so far isn’t great. He also said the announcement of another black money amnesty scheme was not a good decision.

1.20 pm: Some observers say the FM’s announcement that the government was open to reducing stake in IDBI to below 51 percent was bold. But Udayan is circumspect, saying the government’s track record on strategic sales from last year doesn’t inspire confidence.

1.15 pm: “This Budget is all about villages. It is not about the stock market. A lot of people will be happy though you may not find them in the stock market,” says Udayan Mukherjee.

He, however, adds that it would have been a very positive even for the market had the FM not announced the STT on options and laid out a higher recapitalization figure.

1.10 pm: The market has recouped all of its losses. It is now in the green.

1.04 pm: CNBC-TV18 sources the Reserve Bank of India will likely undertake an out-of-turn interest rate cut within 24-36 hours.

The RBI will take heart from the fiscal deficit number and from the bond market’s positive reaction.

1.03 pm: The FM’s nine pillars that underpin his approach to the Budget.

1.00 pm: “On balance, it was a workman-like Budget. No real surprises given how we know the Finance Minister — he’s not flashy,” says Enam’s Manish Chokhani. “The positive was adherence to fiscal deficit.”

12.58 pm: The Finance Minister’s FM speech is up on the Budget website. To read, go here .

12.55 pm: More numbers trickling in. The government has:

– Projected 3 percent fiscal deficit for FY18 and FY19
– FY17 gross market borrowing at Rs 6 lakh crore
– FY17 net market borrowing seen at Rs 4.25 lakh crore
– Project nominal GDP growth of Rs 11 percent in FY17

12.53 pm: The market has now seen a sharp recovery. The Sensex is now down only 130 points, a recovery of about 500 points from the day’s low. The bond market too has rallied, thanks to the government meeting the fiscal deficit target.

12.51 pm: “It’s a rural- and poor-focussed, redistributive Budget, while adhering to fiscal prudence,” writes CRISIL Research.

12.50 pm: “I am not disappointed with the Budget,” says veteran banker Deepak Parekh of HDFC. “He has stuck to fiscal prudence. There is no point in spending more than you have.”

12.47 pm: The FY17 divestment figure is at Rs 36,000 crore. Fund raising through strategic stake sale is pegged at Rs 20,500 crore. Is that another lofty ambition given what has happened to the divestment program for past five-six years now?

12.44 pm: “The biggest negative for the market is the bank recapitalization figure,” says Helios Capital’s Samir Arora. The decision to not hike service tax or introduce LTCG tax is a positive, he adds.

12.42 pm: An update that we missed here. Excise duty on most tobacco products raised by 10-15 percent. ITC has slumped.

12.40 pm: With that, the FM has concluded the Budget speech.

12.38 pm: A number of changes proposed to the way the tax office works. The tax office has been a bit of pain point for the government so far.

12.36 pm:
Ease of doing business: FM says government will reduce multiplicity of taxes and cascading — 13 taxes with collection less than Rs 50 crores a year abolished.

12.34 pm: More streamlining in place for the indirect tax structure: high levle committee chaired by revenue secretary in place to allay fears of retro tax.

12.32 pm: The FM attempts to bury the retro tax ghost. Announces a fresh dispute resolution scheme. Has also proposed a one-time scheme that will waive off interest and penalty, provided companies withdraw cases.

12.30 pm: The Nifty is at a fresh 52-week low, down over 100 points, has broken below 6,900.

12.27 pm: Neither will be mining companies:

Clean energy cess increased from Rs 200/ton to 400/ton on coal, lignite and peat.

12.26 pm: Here’s more. The aam aadmi won’t be pleased at all.

– A Krishi Kalyan cess of 0.5 percent on all services, effective June 1.

– Infra cess of 1 percent on small petrol, LPG and CNG, 2.5 percent on other vehicles; 4 percent on large vehicles.

12.25 pm: STT on options to be raised to 0.05 percent from 0.017 percent. 10 percent tax on dividend in addition to DDT if dividend more than Rs 10 lakh a year — will hurt promoters.

12.23 pm: Some more tax tweaks, nothing radical:

– Dividend distribution tax exempted from real estate investment trusts (REITs)

– Propose 100 percent deduction to undertakings for construction of affordable housing

12.21 pm: “For first time homebuyers, I propose an extra Rs 50,000 tax deduction on interest paid as far as loan amount is less than Rs 35 lakh and house value is less than Rs 50 lakh.”

12.20 pm: The market doesn’t look pleased with what has been announced so far. The Sensex is down almost 300 points.

12.19 pm: We are comitted to implement GAAR from April 1, 2017, says FM. Will this worry the market?

12.17 pm: Capital gains not to be taxed on investments in regulated fund of funds for start-ups. LTCG period for unlisted cos reduced to 2 years.

12.14 pm: Broad income tax slabs remain at the same levels as last year.

12.11 pm: Relief to those in rented houses: deduction raised from Rs 24,000 to Rs 60,000 under Section 88G.

Ceiling of tax rebate for taxpayers with up to Rs 5 lakh annual income will be raised from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5000.

12.10 pm: The FM has moved to discuss tax measures.

12.07 pm: The Modi government’s war on Soviet-era central planning methods. Following the abolition of the Planning Commission, the government will now do away with the distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure from FY18.

The focus will be distinction between capital and revenue expenditure.

12.05 pm: Overall, the government has increased its plan expenditure by 15.3 percent to Rs 5.5 lakh crore. Non plan expenditure at Rs 14.28 lakh crore.


The revenue deficit target is at 2.5 percent.

12.00 pm: As expected, bank stocks have taken a knock following the announcement of the recapitalization figure. SBI is down 0.8 percent. PNB is off 1 percent. Banks were up this morning.

The PSU Bank index is 5 percent off highs. Banks have taken the broader market down with them. The Nifty is now down 0.75 percent, down below 7,000.

11.58 am: The process for transformation of IDBI Bank has already started. We are looking at options to reduce government stake below 50 percent for banks.

Why only IDBI? Its unique shareholder structure means the government does not directly own shares in it — other government companies do. This will make privatisation easy.

11.56 am: “Bank NPAs is an area of concerns, and is a legacy of the past. We have proposed several steps to rehaul state-run banks previously. We pledge Rs 25,000 crore by way of bank recapitalization. If need be, we will up the figure.”

Will the market be disappointed?

11.55 am: The FM proposes to tweak the SARFAESI Act, which deals with liquidation and recovery processes.

A proposal for the SEBI Act is also made.

11.53 am: The Bankruptcy Code Bill will be introduced in Parliament in FY17. But will it be passed?

11.49 am: The government will tweak FDI norms for stock exchanges, pension, insurance, asset reconstruction. “Details are in the Budget document,” the FM says.

“100 percent FDI for food processing industry will be allowed.”

11.47 am: “We propose to develop 10 of 25 non-functional airstrips around the country”.

11.44 am:
The FM says the government will open up the road sector, allowing entrepreneurs to take up more transport initiatives. He says this will be a game-changer. But details of the scheme are not yet clear.

11.43 am: Government to incentivise gas production from deep sea and other unutilised deep sources.

11.43 am: FM moves to infrastructure. The total outlay for roads will be at Rs 97,000 crore. Along with railways, the total spend in FY17 will be at Rs 2.18 lakh crore. The total infrastructure outlay stands at Rs 2.21 lakh crore.

“Pace of completion of roads will rise to 10000 km in FY17. 10000 NH kms to be awarded in FY17. 50,000 kms state highways will be upgraded.”

11.39 am: “National Skill Development Mission has imparted training to 76 lakh youth. 1500 multi skill training institutes wil be set up.”

11.36 am: Market is unenthused so far. Trading close to the flat line.

11.35 am: FM now moves to other areas. Education and infra spend.

11.34 am: Below is the nine-point agenda that the FM says the Budget will follow.

11.31 am: More announcements for the social sector: A mission to provide LPG gas connection to women household members at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore.

11.30 am: The government provide health insurance of up to Rs 1 lakh per family.

Relief for patients with renal disease. FM proposes to exempt some parts of dialysis machines from basic customs duty.

11.29 am: So far, the Budget is living up to expectation, with a focus on the farm sector. Rs 87,765 crore for rural development as a whole has been allocated in the Budget.

Not surprisingly, shares of companies connected to the rural sector, like M&M and Escorts, are flying.

11.28 am: The government will relaunch its national land record digitisation scheme and fund it with Rs 150 crore.

11.26 am: The government will spend Rs 9,000 crore for one of its pet initiatives, Swacch Bharat.

11.24 am: Here comes the big announcement: The government will spend Rs 38,500 crore on  MGNREGA, the erstwhile UPA government’s flagship scheme.

The FM says this is the highest ever allocation ever made to the scheme.

11.21 am: 5 lakh crore acres of farms will be brought under organic farming.

11.19 am: Rs 17,000 crore will be allocated to the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), the FM says. “Over the past five years, we propose to spend Rs 86,500 crore over five years on irrigation.”

11.16 am: “We are giving incentives to boost pulses production. We are setting up an e-centre for agriculture kendras around the country. We have made it mandatory for state governments to amend the APMC Act in order to sign up for this platform. 12 states have signed up.”

11.15 am: 2,000 outlets of fertilizer companies will be provided with more fertilizer.

11.13 am: “Farmers are a backbone of the economy. Will promise to double farmer incomes by 2022. We will implement our irrigation scheme on mission mode.”

“The soil health card scheme is being implemented with greater vigour.”

11.10 am: “Our focus will be to pass the GST and bankruptcy bills. We will also look to give statutory status for Aadhaar.”

11.08 am: “We will undertake more spending to boost the rural economy, protect the poor and re-infuse capital into banks,” the FM says.

11.07 am: “We have increased plan expenditure this year despite increased devolution of states.”

11.05 am: The first part of the Budget speech under way, where the FM summarises the state of the economy.

Growth has picked up, inflation has cooled, current account deficit has reduced, forex reserves are at an all-time high.

11.03 am: “The global economy continues to remain slow. But India continues to stand down. Global economic bodies have reposed confidence in our economy,” the FM says.

As is the practice, he starts off with a couplet.

11.00 am: The FM rises to present the Union Budget 2016.

10.57 am: A few minutes to go for the FM’s speech to commence. Want to watch it live? Head here .

10.55 am: Market expert Shankar Sharma is not too pleased with the government’s philosophy of increasing excise duty on petrol and diesel.

“They should have passed on a lot of the gains of the oil bonanza. It would have put money in the hands of the consumer,” he tells CNBC-TV18. “I refuse to believe that the government is a better allocator of money than the average consumer.”

10.52 am: To sum up, Jaitley faces the classic dilemma of whether to spend (the need of the hour, given the state of the economy) or invest (a major reason why this government was voted into power) more. He can’t do both, as the fiscal situation is expected to remain tight.

What will he do? We will find out over the next two hours.

10.44 am: In non-Budget news, Leonardo DiCaprio has won his maiden Oscar for the Best Actor.

10.40 am: The divestment issue is also something that is on the market’s mind. Remember the NDA government has so far exactly followed the erstwhile UPA government’s policy of making grand announcements when it comes to divestment and then not delivering on it.

Last year, it said the FM said he would do about Rs 45,000 crore by way of stake sale in public sector companies and another Rs 24,000 crore by way of “strategic stake sales” (sale of government stake in private companies or erstwhile public companies). He has not raised half of the intended figure, with the fiscal year end nearing a close.

10.30 am:
Half an hour to go now for the Budget speech. One hopes the opposition will let the FM speak — given all that has happened on the political front lately, sedition and all.

In any case, Budget proposals are part of the Finance Bill, which is a money bill (money bills don’t need Rajya Sabha approval to pass muster) — so tabling it will not be a problem.

10.20 am: Ashok Wadhwa, CEO of Ambit Holdings, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley could go in for a “Thomas Piketty” Budget. Piketty is the world-famous left-leaning economist whose seminal 2013 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has altered the discourse world over about how governments should spend their money.

He believes the government may go big on throwing cash at the economy, in its bid to lift consumer spending. Remember this government has been accused by left-wing critics of giving spending the short shrift.

Could there be more levies on the rich in the form of more estate, gift or inheritance taxes? Already, the market is at the edge of the seat with respect to LTCG and dividend distribution tax.

10.15 am: Udayan also has a conspiracy theory up his sleeve: that the government carefully orchestrated leaks to spark the LTCG rumours — something that it knew would instantly worry the market and focus only on it. That way, should the move not come through, the market would go up.

10.10 am: The Nifty could pull back to about 7,300 in the short, says Mukherjee, perhaps even test 7,500 if global markets support. But he says one shouldn’t bet on it beyond that.

10.05 am: CNBC-TV18 Consulting Editor Udayan Mukherjee, who has been circumspect on the market, has more bad news: he believes the trend of the market is down and this Budget — any Budget — does not change the trend.

“There is a case for a small [short-term] pullback though, unless the government does something that spooks investors — something like bringing in long-term capital gains tax,” he says.

In any case, Mukherjee expects the Budget to remain “more of the same”, euphemism for nothing spectacular.

10.00 am: With an hour to go for the Budget speech to start, the market is treading water. Bank stocks are up.

9.54 am: Even as the overall market is flat, individual stocks, as always, are in focus.

IndiGo is up about 2 percent, announced that Airbus has confirmed that beginning with March 2016, it will deliver 24 fuel efficient A320neo aircraft by March of 2017 as compared to the original plan to deliver 26 A320neos. ( Read more. )

9.44 am: Last year, the government had announced capital infusion of Rs 70,000 crore into public sector banks over four years up to FY19, in four tranches of Rs 25,000 crore each for FY16 and FY17 and Rs 10,000 crore each for the following two fiscals.

Many analysts expect the FM to increase FY17’s recap figure from Rs 25,000 crore to about Rs 35,000 crore.

Experts say Indian banks will need about Rs 4 lakh crore over a period of four years in order to meet their capitalization, growth and regulatory requirements. (Read more about the bank sector’s expectations from the Budget here .)

The FM has said public sector banks are free to raise the remaining amount through stake sales — so long as they don’t let government stake fall below 52 percent.

9:37 am: Should the Budget stick to the fiscal deficit target of 3.5 percent for FY17, chances of a rate cut after the Budget will increase. Remember, last year, the RBI cut the benchmark repo rate soon after the Budget, saying it was convinced about the government’s fiscal consolidation plan. The market is hoping for something similar this time too.

The Macro Economic Survey had recommended that the government stick to its fiscal prudence plan, and at the same time called for an easier monetary policy from the RBI.

9:30 am:
The market is betting on the thrust being on rural, given the distress from the double whammy of drought and unseasonal rains. Still reviving rural demand in the short term may not be an easy task, feel analysts.

Revival of the construction sector is key to the turnaround in rural demand, and that may take time.

9:25 am: Expectations from this Budget are at an all-time low. Still the market will watch out for policies that could give a fillip to the investment cycle. With the Macro Economic Survey stressing on the need for sticking to the fiscal roadmap, theer is a high probability that the FM may retain the 3.5 percent fiscal deficit target for FY17

9.15 am: The stock market has started, flat to somewhat weak. But you will likely not bet for it to remain this way all day. Budget days tend to remain volatile.

9.10 am: Fun fact: Ten days prior to the Big Day, officials of the Finance Ministry involved in the printing of the Budget documents are locked in in office, so that details of the Budget don’t go out. Needless to say, no connectivity is allowed. No Whatsapp for the big babus.

9.05 am: TV visuals coming in that show the FM walking into North Block. About two hours to go for the Budget speech to commence.

9.00 am: Finally, there is a dreaded rumour in the market that the FM will increase the minimum threshold for a stock investment to qualify as long-term from one year to three years (this will reduce the number of investments that qualify to be taxed at the 0 percent long-term capital gains tax rate). 

Another theory says the FM may introduce a long-term capital gains tax.

Either way, such an announcement will not be short of disastrous for the market, at least in the short term.

But given the fact that either of the moves will likely truly disturb the market, which has anyway lately been highly volatile, will the FM really want to rock the boat?

8.57 am: The FM will give further details on the four-year roadmap to reduce the corporate tax rate from 30 percent to 25 percent last year. 

In the last Budget, the FM had said he would reduce that tax rate gradually while eliminating exemptions given to various sectors. While this will result in the effective tax rate being unchanged, it will streamline the tax structure in a big way.

8.53 am: In direct taxes, little is expected by way of further income tax relief after FM’s gift to the common man last year. Some tinkering on the margins is not ruled out though.

8.48 am: On the indirect tax front, a solid roadmap on the goods and services tax, which was originally supposed to be rolled out from April 1 this year, will be welcome. But as everyone is aware by now, the ambitious GST reform has become a political rather than an economic subject.

In order to transition to GST, which will remove virtually every major tax and duty in the country, the FM may need to hike service tax again this year — something that is unlikely to go down well with the common man. Last year, he had hiked the service tax from 12.5 percent to 14 percent. It could be hiked to 16 percent this year.

8.42 am: Sectorally, the elephant in the room is the banking sector, where a larger recapitalization package is expected. Remember, banks, especially the state-run ones, have been facing a severe NPA crisis — the worst in over a decade — and some analysts believe that they need even more than just fresh money being thrown at them.

The government has already announced a seven-step Indradhanush scheme last year to revitalize public sector banks but its implementation is not yet under way properly.

Other sectors that need the FM’s help are power and commodities.

The FM is also expected to streamline or eliminate the inverted duty structure for several sectors. Inverted duties are where finished products incur a lower import duty than raw materials — which put local companies at a disadvantage.

And oh, every finance minister’s go-to avenue for fund raising, cigarettes, may see yet another excise duty hike. May mean ITC shares could be in for action.

8.40 am: Besides, the FM may roll out more steps to give a leg up to Modi’s flagship programmes like Make in India, Startup India, Digital India and Skill India.

8.33 am: In brief, here are the key expectations from the Budget.

– Fiscal deficit
As we mentioned previously, a small section of the market believes the FM should and will give the fiscal deficit target a miss — something that others say will not please bond market vigilantes.

– Macros:
The FM is likely to announce a number of steps to counter the slowdown in the rural economy, which has been battered by two back-to-back drought years and, according to critics, a lack of focus on rural India in previous years.

– Subsidies:
The government has got substantial savings thanks to the oil rout but it is expected that the FM may further announce rationalization to subsidies, aided by the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-mobile (JAM) trinity.

– Growth:
Analysts will overall analyse the Budget in terms of what it can do to boost growth. While statistically, India remains the world’s fastest growing large economy, the micro numbers show a slightly weaker picture.

– Infra
So far, the government has maintained a heady focus on infrastructure. This is expected to continue.

– Tax collection
The market will be happy if it sees steps that will increase tax revenue and widen the tax pool.

8.23 am: Day traders may want to look at “The Great Exchange Challenge” where they can predict where the index may close today. There are prizes to be won.

8.20 am: Those having a keen interest in the Budget will love a microsite we’ve created where you will get articles, columns, data, infographics, trivia and much more on the event.

Go here.

8.14 am: “I have an exam tomorrow,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yesterday during his Mann ki Baat radio address, referring to presentation of the Budget as he gave a pep talk to motivate students appearing for board exams.

Modi said he was “full of confidence” ahead of his “examination” by 125 crore people, a trait which he wanted students to emulate when they appear for their examinations for Class X and XII starting Tuesday.

Read more.

8.11 am: The equity market does not seem overtly supportive today, thanks to global cues, with the Chinese market down about 4 percent. The Nifty is expected to start weak but during the day, it will take cues from what is announced in the Budget speech.

8.08 am: One of the key metrics that the market is going to watch is the fiscal deficit. It is important because the FM is staring a huge increase in spending next year — one-rank-one-pension, the rollout of the 7th Pay Commission and a likely package he will announce for the struggling rural economy.

As a result, some analysts have said he should consider missing the 3.5 percent fiscal deficit target that had been set last year as part of a three-year FRBM roadmap he had announced last year to bring down the deficit to 3 percent.

However, others have warned that a miss in the target will likely have ramifications for the bond and currency markets, both of which have witnessed volatility of late.

The fiscal deficit is measured as a percentage of GDP. This year’s (FY16) deficit is expected to come in at around 3.9 percent, which in rupee terms works out to be about Rs 5.5 lakh crore.

8.05 am: The low expectations from the Union Budget today might help FM Arun Jaitley who, apart from the fiscal bonanza from low oil prices, has little capital to work with.

8.03 am: Following a historic mandate in 2014, the government has tabled two Union Budgets that can either be termed status quoist or one that brought in incremental changes (depending on who you ask).

But it is largely accepted that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has shied away from taking any big bang steps to revitalise the economy. And so, expectations are low going into the Budget.

8.00 am:
Welcome to the biggest day of the year in the world of Indian finance. The Narendra Modi government’s third Union Budget is here and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is in an unenviable position.


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