While it's much easier said than done, it's quite clear that this Budget will be a tough balancing act, where growth and fiscal prudence will compete equally for attention, writes Sai Kumar.
The Budget, as an event, is a great opportunity for the country to understand the vision of the government of the day. Potentially, it can be so much more than merely a statement of accounts.
Over the years, stakeholders have realised this power of the Budget as a platform and it has captured the imagination of a cross-section of the Indian citizenry, from the industry to the aam aadmi.
Considering the context leading up to this year's Budget, I think the finance minister would try to seek an optimum blend of the short-term needs vis a vis the long-term goals of our economy.
While it's much easier said than done, it's quite clear that this Budget will be a tough balancing act, where growth and fiscal prudence will compete equally for attention.
From the slowdown in growth to inflationary pressures and the high-interest-rate environment, from sovereign debt problems in the euro zone to the domestic issues, there were a multitude of factors that impacted sentiment negatively.
While the Indian economy has been quite resilient, the government must consider steps that strengthen confidence and encourage a faster clip in growth.
It's also critical that we encourage impactful spending on infrastructure, both social (education, healthcare) and physical, as these are the long-term drivers of our prosperity.
On the fiscal side, we must look at reducing the implementation risk that has often been associated with the Indian economy for many years.
Apart from that, the government should consider expediting the disinvestment process and ensure key reforms such as GST are implemented quickly.
Yes, not all of these issues are directly addressable in a Budget, but the Budget this year can be a starting point towards such enabling policy making.
Industry and investors are looking to this year's Budget as one of the indicators of economic mood for the rest of the year.
If the Budget assures a certain degree of fiscal prudence, without compromising on growth excessively, the sentiment should improve.
Nonetheless, in order to surge ahead, industry will seek signs of at least an optimistic outlook from the FM. This will have a beneficial impact on the media & entertainment industry too, as it correlates strongly with general economic activity.
Sai Kumar, Group CEO, Network18