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Pre-Budget gains unlikely this year
February, 08th 2010

The Union Budget, which usually is scheduled for February every year, mostly opens up the door for the bears on Dalal Street. On the other hand, Indian investors have mostly gained during the one month running up to the Budget, BSE sensex data since 2000 shows.

This year, however, could be different as the sensex has already lost over 5% since January 27. Only some exceptional gains over the next three weeks could help the sensex recoup the losses and then translate into a positive return for investors in the pre-budget month. FM Pranab Mukherjee will present the Budget on February 26.

Brokers and dealers point out that for investors, the run-up to this year's Budget could be markedly different from other years. Two major policy reform initiatives Direct Tax Code and General Sales Tax are slotted to be implemented over the next two years, and so the finance minister might not bring in any major changes to taxes, direct as well as indirect.

So any expectations about changes to income tax have been nearly ruled out, said a top official at an investment advisory firm. The same holds true for indirect taxes, although there are noises from some quarters for at least a partial rollback of excise duty sops, which were given in 2008 and 2009 to tackle the economic slowdown.

It is usually the tax-related issues in a budget that interest investors the most, and they buy in anticipation of the same,'' said the investment advisor. While the possibility of gains during the pre-Budget period looks bleak, investors could gain post budget. A recent report by foreign brokering firm major Morgan Stanley noted that one could expect several positive actions from the budget to indicate the government's seriousness about pushing forward economic reforms.

These could include "a roadmap for Goods and Services tax, reduction in deficit, divestment plan, acceleration in infrastructure spending and a definite timeline for direct tax reforms", the report pointed out.

We also believe [that] the government will roll back the tax incentives from last year, signalling a partial withdrawal of fiscal stimulus package.

Oil sector reforms and 3G auction are other items the market is keenly awaiting around or in the Budget,'' the report added.

This year, however, could be different as the sensex has already lost over 5% since January 27. Only some exceptional gains over the next three weeks could help the sensex recoup the losses and then translate into a positive return for investors in the pre-budget month. FM Pranab Mukherjee will present the Budget on February 26.

Brokers and dealers point out that for investors, the run-up to this year's Budget could be markedly different from other years. Two major policy reform initiatives Direct Tax Code and General Sales Tax are slotted to be implemented over the next two years, and so the finance minister might not bring in any major changes to taxes, direct as well as indirect.

So any expectations about changes to income tax have been nearly ruled out, said a top official at an investment advisory firm. The same holds true for indirect taxes, although there are noises from some quarters for at least a partial rollback of excise duty sops, which were given in 2008 and 2009 to tackle the economic slowdown.

It is usually the tax-related issues in a budget that interest investors the most, and they buy in anticipation of the same,'' said the investment advisor. While the possibility of gains during the pre-Budget period looks bleak, investors could gain post budget. A recent report by foreign brokering firm major Morgan Stanley noted that one could expect several positive actions from the budget to indicate the government's seriousness about pushing forward economic reforms.

These could include "a roadmap for Goods and Services tax, reduction in deficit, divestment plan, acceleration in infrastructure spending and a definite timeline for direct tax reforms", the report pointed out.

We also believe [that] the government will roll back the tax incentives from last year, signalling a partial withdrawal of fiscal stimulus package. Oil sector reforms and 3G auction are other items the market is keenly awaiting around or in the Budget,'' the report added.

 
 
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