Growth first, fiscal deficit cut can wait

People watch television sets displaying Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presenting the budget in parliament, at an electronic shop in Chandigarh February 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday announced a budget that put boosting growth before painful reforms, slowing the pace of fiscal deficit cuts and seeking to put domestic and foreign capital to work.  Full Article | Expert views 

A woman looks at a gold bangle inside a jewellery showroom at a market in Mumbai January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

India to launch gold accounts

India will introduce gold deposit accounts to utilise the 20,000 tonnes available within the country and launch a sovereign gold bond, the finance minister said on Saturday, but kept the import duty at the record 10 percent in a setback for jewellers. Arun Jaitley signalled the govt's intent to cut shipments into India. Massive gold imports often skew India's trade balance.  Full Article 

Indian soldiers march during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India raises defence budget modestly

India announced on Saturday a modest 7.9 percent increase in defence spending for the fiscal year starting April 1, suggesting that it will move only gradually with the military's long wish list for fighter jets, ships and artillery. After years of neglect, India is trying to narrow the military gap with China, which has been building up its fleet of ships and submarines making forays in the Indian Ocean.  Full Article 

A man watches television inside his currency exchange shop in New Delhi August 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal/Files
Undeclared Cash

India vows tough punishments on 'black money'

India said it plans tougher punishments including jail terms of up to 10 years for those who hide undeclared cash outside the country and for the banks and advisers who help them, as it tries to bring back illicit billions stashed abroad. Jaitley said the government would introduce the changes in a new law during the budget session, which will also allow enforcement agencies to seize assets held abroad.  Full Article 

A Moody's sign is displayed on 7 World Trade Center, the company's corporate headquarters in New York, February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files
Moody's Reaction

Budget "credit neutral" from ratings perspective

Moody's said the budget was "credit neutral," adding the agency would monitor whether the government can fulfill its pledge to meet its fiscal deficit by boosting economic growth. Atsi Sheth, Moody's sovereign ratings analyst, also underscored the need for the government to work towards a timely rollout of GST, while saying more efficient direct cash subsidy transfers would also be important.  Full Article 

A man smokes a cigarette as he sits on a pavement along a road in Srinagar September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli/Files

Cigarette makers fall after excise duty hike

Shares in cigarette makers fell on Saturday after the budget raised excise duty on cigarettes by 25 percent for cigarettes of length not exceeding 65 mm, and by 15 percent for cigarettes of other lengths. Although cigarette demand is relatively inelastic, analysts have said higher taxes would hurt volume growth and force companies to diversify faster.  Full Article 

A worker stacks steel pipes in Ahmedabad November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

India to raise import tax on steel

India will raise the import duty on steel by 5 percentage points from April 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday, to stem a flow of cheap supplies from China and Russia. The government would raise the tariff to 15 percent from 10 percent, Jaitley said in his budget for the next fiscal year.  Full Article 

A labourer spreads wheat for drying at a wholesale grain market in Chandigarh April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/Files

Commodities markets set for shakeup

India on Saturday proposed to merge its commodity market regulator with the capital market watchdog, aiming to strengthen regulation in a move which could help open the commodity futures market to institutional investors. Responding to the measure, shares of Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd, India's biggest commodity exchange, jumped as much as 15 percent.  Full Article 

100 Yuan notes are seen in this illustration picture in Beijing November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files

China to cut benchmark interest rates by 25 bps

China's central bank said on Saturday it would cut benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points to 5.35 percent, a widely expected move as the world's second largest economy continues to show signs of weakness despite previous easing measures.   Full Article 

"Dum Laga Ke Haisha": Rooted in reality

"Dum Laga Ke Haisha": rooted in reality

This is one of those films that you have to pay close attention to if you want to enjoy it to the full. There is so much to like here – the attention to detail, the quirky characters; and you are likely to miss it if your attention wavers to your phone or your popcorn.  Full Article 

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A global lesson from Europe

“The euro area is in crisis” is not the most thrilling way to open an article. The region is seemingly always in crisis, resembling an opera by Wagner – very, very long, with lots of wailing and melodrama, generally conducted in German. The perpetual round of emergency summits and last-minute deals is something investors have had to get used to.  Full Article 

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