Mr. Pranab Mukherjee came out strongly in defense of the interim Union Budget 2009-10, citing "Constitutional Constraints" as the prime reason for not making major changes in the budget. He was however honest in his admission those corrective measures needed to be taken as soon as the new government takes over as his mandate was only for less than two months. Mr. Mukherjee clarified that the government has already introduced two stimulus packages and approved two major infrastructure projects to boost up the sluggish economy. He also stressed upon the fact that every time one should not expect lot of offerings and goodies from the budget as these are unusual times and the government has already reacted swiftly and on-time rather than waiting for the budget day to arrive.
As per government’s internal estimate India needs an investment of over $500-600 Billion to build its infrastructure (power, ports, airports, roads, telecom, construction, steel, railways, mining etc) in the next 5 years. India faces a 12% shortage in power during peak hours and is expected to worsen due to lack of rainfall this year. So there will be a huge investment expected in this Sector. Companies under this sector is expected to make benefit out of this.
Indian banking system is very small compared to China or US. India's financial depth is low for an economy that promises much. Financial assets represent 160 per cent of gross domestic product. This puts India on a par with Indonesia, but way behind China's 220 per cent. A weakened financial system may help weather a global financial crisis in the short term, but it will not help India reach the higher growth levels to which it aspires. There is not a single Indian bank that figures in top 20 global banks list. The market cap of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is more than the combined market cap of Indian banks. Because of all these reasons decisions that will help banking sector is expected in the budget.
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A country where over 60% population is employed in agriculture does not even have a consistent sectoral growth rate of 4%. President Ms. Patil mentioned that a new law would be formulated to implement Food Security Act, which will provide the families below poverty line 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs 3 a kg. With so much political stake linked to agriculture and no changes done to the agriculture ministry, any reforms related to agriculture seem unlikely.
India has 0.5 doctors for 1,000 people as compared to 2.3 doctors per 1,000 in the United States. We need to have more doctors, healthcare workers and medical institution in rural areas. The government has to take serious steps to push doctors to work in these areas and create infrastructure for them. Some estimates say that India might have to spend $20 Billion annually to achieve its proposed health care facilities.
India needs lakhs of new and good schools, thousands of colleges and hundreds of universities in order to provide even basic education to all its students. The government may allow foreign universities to allow tie-ups with local colleges or open their branches here. There is a huge demand and supply gap that is forcing students to go abroad to seek education. Indian students spend $20 Billion annually for foreign education due to lack of quality education.
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Mr. Mukherjee, in his union budget speech announced the allocation of Rs. 1,41,703 for the defense sector. He justified this allocation by saying that increase had to be made considering the present security situation around the country especially in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
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It was brought to the knowledge of the parliament that the revenue deficit has outgrown four-fold as a result of extension of stimulus package provided to lot of industries in the light of the global economic meltdown.
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