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A 3.25 upon 5 to FM: Rediff Jury
Salil Panchal &Hemen Kapadia / Morpheus Inc. in Mumbai
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March 01, 2005

Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rated the Budget 2005-06 as 'outstanding' and credited Finance Minister P Chidambaram for producing a document which lived up to meet the challenges of the time; and the Opposition attacked the UPA government over an 'uninspiring' Budget, the corporate world seemed fairly satisfied with the finance minister's effort.

The Jury rated the Budget as quite good, giving it an overall 3.25 rating on a scale of 1 to 5.

Check out what the jury had to say:

1. R Balakrishnan, CEO, Sahara Mutual Fund

It appears to be a neutral Budget at this stage with the thrust given to the financial and infrastructure sector. For the capital markets, some benefits will be seen in the OTC derivatives segment, but overall this segment remains largely untouched.

In terms of specific sectors, the infrastructure and agri-business related sectors should be in the limelight. The concern I have on the banking side, is that the sector seems to be shifting to the directional lending mode.

Rating 3.5 / 5

2. Shitin Desai, Executive Vice Chairman, DSP Merrill Lynch

The fine print will have to be read but it is a populist and not alarmist Budget. Much of what was expected in terms of coporate and direct tax changes has come about.

One will have to see details into the tax savings exemptions for individuals.

The essentials are in place in terms of thrust on infrastructure, healthcare and water / sanitation sectors. The sectors which look good will be infrastructure and textiles.

Rating 3.5 / 5

3. Satish Reddy, Managing Director, Dr Reddy's Lab

The Budget exercise is becoming a redundant exercise and this itself is a sign of maturity for the economy. The reduction of custom duties and income tax streamlining is a positive.

The seriousness of the government in implementing VAT is also a big positive. The infrastructure and agriculture sector will have a spiralling effect on the overall economy.

For the pharma sector, it is a neutral Budget.

Rating: Not rated

4. Vijay Tilakraj, Manager, Cholamandalam Securities

This is a growth-oriented Budget with focus on infrastructure, education, taxes and healthcare.

The near term outlook for the stock markets will be positive, although overseas funds had preferred to stay on the sidelines in previous trading sessions.

Rating 3.5 / 5

5. Vallabh Bhansali, Director, Enam Financial

One could not ask for more at this stage. The emphasis is on the banking and financial services sector.

The tax structures have been streamlined further and the focus on urban development (through cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad) is a welcome sign.

The banking and infrastrcuture sectors should perform well.

Rating 3.5 / 5

6. Atul Hatwar, Dealer, Crosseas Securities

The raising of the STT on all equity-linked products has not gone down with some segments of the capital markets. This could be a dampener over the short term.

Over the medium term we see strong emphasis on the infrastructure sector. The Budget appears to have lost its importance as it is politically sensitive and much of the detailed sectoral reform will be seen after the Budget.

Rating 3.5 / 5

7. Manoj Kakaiya, dealer, ULJK Securities

It is a mild Budget in the sense there was no path-breaking direction. The stock markets could under-perform over the short term but there appear to be gains over the medium term as foreign funds take a broader view.

The tax restructuring was a positive and sectors like the housing, pipes, steel and irrigation should do well.

Rating 3 / 5

8. Bhaskar Kapadia, Partner, Pyramid Securities

This is in some ways a missed opportunity for the finance minister. He could have done so much in terms of raising FDI in specific sectors. . . maybe it will be announced later or working on capital account convertibility.

The thrust is strong on infrastructure sector. The broad changes in terms of tax slab restructuring and corporate taxes is seen as a positive.

Rating 2.5 / 5

9. Hiten Mehta, Manager, Fortune Financial Services

A largely populist Budget with a good relief provided for individual taxpayer and corporate. The sectors which should perform well will be infrastructure-linked, irrigation and export-oriented.

For the stock markets, while they are on the rise at present, we feel that there could be a slide at higher levels.

Rating 3 / 5

10. Ajay Bagga, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund

There is a prudent fiscal management, with a focus on urban and rural development. We will see a re-rating of profitable companies following the reduction of corporate tax.

The focus on employment generation and thrust on rural electrification and irrigation and incentives to the textile and sugar sectors, will all have a multiplier effect for the economy.

For mutual funds, the removal of Section 88 and 80 L benefits and the savings exemptions are a positive. Savers will now be able to look at all investment options without tax contraints.

Rating: Not rated

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