Moody's says budget lacks details on fiscal deficit target

MUMBAI Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:55pm IST

An employee poses with the bundles of Indian rupee notes inside a bank in Agartala August 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey

An employee poses with the bundles of Indian rupee notes inside a bank in Agartala August 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jayanta Dey

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Moody's Investors Service welcomed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's pledge to keep government finances in check but said the lack of details on how to narrow the fiscal deficit made it challenging to assess the credit impact.

In his government's maiden budget speech on Thursday, Jaitley said on Thursday the government would stick to a fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) set by the previous government for the year ending March 2015.

"From a ratings perspective, it is mildly positive to see there's a roadmap, but the lack of details gives us pause," Moody's sovereign rating analyst Atsi Sheth told Reuters in a phone interview.

"The intent appears to be there, but the measures have not been really thought through yet," Sheth added.

Moody's currently rates India at "Baa3", the lowestinvestment-grade rating, with a "stable" outlook.

Sheth added the fiscal deficit target could also be hard to achieve.

"If growth does not revive in the second half of the year, then I do think either they will have to be a very concerted effort at expenditure reduction or it will be missed by a couple of decimal points," Sheth said.

(Reporting by Neha Dasgupta; Editing by Rafael Nam)

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