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    BUDGET 1999
    BUDGET 98-99
    BUDGET 97-98


'I do not find anything in the Budget to enthuse the investor, Indian or foreign'
"The worst cases are the increase in customs duties, the increase in excise on capital goods, the across-the-board surcharge on customs duties and the across-the-board surcharge on income tax and corporate tax," says former finance minister P Chidambaram.

'I find this a very positive Budget'
"The Budget, especially for direct and indirect taxes, is planned very well, and I am personally very satisfied," says Rahul Bajaj, chairman, Bajaj Auto.

'This is a pregnant Budget. When it will deliver and what kind of species it will deliver we can't decide right now'
"I think we are seeing a very subtle redefinition of the word swadeshi. Swadeshi today is not protection. It's making India ready for the twenty-first century. Swadeshi means being proactive, being aggressive," says Anand Mahindra, managing director, Mahindra & Mahindra.

'I don't think the Budget will give an impetus to agriculture'
Says Dr A C Muthiah, chairman, Southern Petrochemicals Industries Corporation.

'Not much has been done for the infrastructure sector'
Onkar Kanwar, chairman and managing director, Apollo Tyres, on the Budget.

A Band-aid Budget!
The policy announcements on the pharma segment have not come a day soon. But the FM has ignored the industry's request to be very specific on R&D. The Budget lacks soul and is directionless, says Habil Khorakiwala, chairman, Wockhardt.

'Giving full weightage to the IT sector will help bring the brains back to India'
A S Kasliwal, chairman, S Kumar Enterprises Ltd, is optimistic.

'Simplification of procedures and rationalisation -- that is the biggest feature'
Sunil Mittal, chairman, Bharti Telecom, on the Budget.

'NRIs are positively welcome -- that seems to be the message'
"I am inclined to give the FM 7 to 7.5 points on a scale of 1 to 10 for his effort," says G P Goenka, chairman, Duncans Ltd.

'Too many commissions, asking the RBI ministries for follow up'
Subodh Bhargava, group chairman, Eicher Ltd, on the Budget.

Budget will help corporate India to recast and reorganise itself
The markets will love the reduction in capital gains tax but will dislike the increase in direct taxation, which is a step backwards, says Uday Kotak, vice-chairman, Kotak Mahindra Finace Limited.

Generalities abound, where are the specifics?
Nowhere did the FM clarify how the funds will be generated. Nowhere did he say this move will generate a certain amount of funds or this policy will entail certain amount of expenditure, says Vinod Doshi, chairman, Premier Automobiles Limited.

'The Budget is not all that imaginative'
Says Sushil Ansal, chairman, Ansal Properties and Industries Ltd.

'The Budget is lacklustre, pedestrian and retrogade!'
Three specific things in the Budget bothered me: cutback by Rs 170 billion in the capital expenditure; internal debt trap; the huge imposition of Rs 93.34 billion in additional taxes and duties. These will lead to further decline in growth rates, says Dr Subramanian Swamy, former Union law minister and president of the Janata Party.

'I have serious worries about debt servicing'
Says Prithviraj Chavan, a senior Congress member of the Lok Sabha.

'FM has a problem coming up with good ideas'
The Budget does not address the problem of declining capital expenditure, particularly in the rural sector. It could have found money for this by stepping up disinvestment. The FM has not used the word privatisation at all, writes Mohan Guruswamy, former advisor to the FM.

'Budget shows up govt's failure to demonstrate vision'
As much as 27 per cent of the total expenditure of Rs 2.83 trillion will be for repayment of interest on the existing loans, as against the total borrowings of 25 per cent in the next year. It is clear that the country has already entered the debt trap, says Mohan Dharia, former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

Finance Secretaty swears by govt downsizing, moots VRS for profit-making PSUs
Yashwant Sinha's ideas prevailed in the Budget whose 'most important aspect is that it can work in a coherent manner'. Things started moving from the first day itself when certain duty structures came into force, says Vijay Kelkar, finance secretary.

'The surcharge on direct taxes is the most disappointing feature'
Sudhir Jalan, FICCI president, on the Union Budget.

'It has addressed all the right issues'
Rajesh Shah, managing director, Mukand Iron and Steel, and president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, on the Budget.

'The Budget has attempted tax reforms which are quite positive'
Says Dr Amit Mitra, secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

'The strong protectionist stand will restrict demand and lead to inefficiency'
"The Budget is long on long-term initiatives and short on short-term measures to boost the economy," feels Pradip Shah, chairman, IndAsia Fund Advisers.

'A fine balancing act, but not very optimistic for the economy or the markets'
"I would be happy if FIIs do not withdraw money from India in 1999-2000, given the economic and political situation, and the unwillingness to carry through the difficult part of the reform process," says Jardine Fleming India chief investment officer U R Bhat.

'I expect market sentiment to improve on a sustained basis, barring political uncertainty'
R Ravimohan, managing director, CRISIL, is optimistic about the impact of the Budget.

'Opening Indian stock exchange terminals abroad is not that easy'
'I don't think the fiscal deficit projections are achievable. No finance minister has lived up to his projections -- actuals are always worse,' says Jerry Rao, former Citibank star executive and founder of Mphasis.

'I don't think the Budget does enough for growth'
Says Ajay Srinivasan, managing director, Prudential-ICICI Asset Management Company.

'The FM could have pushed through many more reforms'
Venture capitalist Alok Vajpeyi is not too happy.

'I feel this is a mixed Budget'
Says Rita Singh, managing director, Mideast India.

'A surprisingly good Budget'
Says businessman Arun Bharat Ram.

'Last year's thrust is in reverse gear this year'
Vikram Thapar, managing director, JCT, on why he is not too happy.

'This Budget attempts to put the brakes on the slide'
Says Vijay Crishna, managing director, Godrej-GE Appliances.

'The Budget is common man-friendly. There won't be any price rise'
K N Memani, chairman, Ernst & Young, on the Budget's positive features.

Good for banking, tough on automotive sector
The bottomline of the banking sector will improve with the new provision for deducting the bad and doubtful debts before calculating taxable income, says S S Kohli, chairman of Punjab & Sind Bank.

'There is nothing to stimulate industrial demand or the capital markets'
Says Vijai Kapur, managing director, Usha India Ltd, Telecom and Steel.

Revenue raising measures are non-inflationary
If the low interest regime takes hold, controlling fiscal deficit through lower interest outgo is possible. However, the quality of numbers remains suspect, says Angshuman Chowdhury, vice-president (finance), Praxair India.

'There's nothing on attracting FDI to the core sector'
Infotech continues to get the attention. Ironically, it is treated separately from telecom which is the enabler. This gap needs to be fixed, says Virat Bhatia.

'It is a good Budget, and should stimulate the economy'
Dr Kirit Parikh, vice-chancellor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Bombay, is reasonably pleased with Sinha's effort.

'When the Opposition is critical and the analysts are happy, it means the Budget is good'
'It is a win-win Budget in that it is good for growth and inflation,' says S S Bhalla, director, Oxus Fund Management.

Economist cautions govt on fiscal deficit, favours gradual rupee depreciaton
There is likely to be a shift of investors from the debt market to equity market. Interest rate reduction is small in dimension and should have been carried out six months ago. It would not lower savings now, said Prof B B Bhattacharya.

Sinha took what he wanted without pinching the common man
'I expect the capital markets to go ding-dong. If I were an investor, I would plump for mutual funds. Fixed deposits of companies or banks are neither tax-efficient nor flexible,' says investment and tax consultant A N Shanbhag.

Not a win-win Budget, but better than last year's
Sinha's last Budget was based on hope. So is this one. I hope he is right, but I fear he will be wrong and the numbers will go haywire, says economist Bibek Debroy.

'Surchage will hit new corporate investments'
Except for the fast moving consumer goods, pharma companies, software and oil refining sectors, the corporate world will find it difficult to pay the surcharge, says S S Bhandare, chief economist of the Tata group.

Long on words, short on action
'Fiscal profligacy, increase in tax rate, no steps towards increase in business confidence, a lack of any vision on the second generation of reforms -- these are areas of concern,' says Prof Shubhashish Gangopadhyay of the Indian Statistical Institute.

Surfeit of surcharges in the name of rationalisation
The finance minister has increased the tax on 14 million income-tax payees by slapping a 10 per cent surcharge on the basic rates. In a period of recession, this will only reduce demand further, says Wilima Wadhwa.

'The emphasis is on fiscal prudence'
"The high level of debt is in my view the biggest challenge facing this government," says P N Vijay, member of the BJP Economic Cell.

'Nothing spectacular can happen in the short term'
Says Devesh Kumar, head of research at ABN Amro.

A 'tough' Budget that wasn't
Only if issues like industrial recovery, investments in infrastructure and government's poor fiscal situation are addressed can we expect to see a long sustained bull run in the market, says Rajashekar Iyer, head, institutional broking, Kotak Securities.

'The Budget gives optimistic signals'
Says Vinay Rai, chairman, Information Technology Committee, FICCI, and chairman and managing director, Usha India Ltd

'Not enough breaks have been given by way of duties or taxes'
Amit Sharma, co-chairman, FICCI telecom panel, explains why he is not too happy.

'The textile industry is greatly disappointed by the Budget'
Says Dr Rajaram Jaipuria, vice-chairman, Indian Cotton Mills Federation and FICCI committee member.

'It is a status quo simplification Budget'
Says R V Kanoria, chairman, Foreign Trade Committee, FICCI, and managing director of Kanoria Chemicals.

'The Budget should have given tea producers the freedom to export'
Says Piyush O Desai, chairman, Federation of All-India Tea Traders' Association.

'The projected fiscal deficit is a major risk factor'
Dhruv M Sawhney, ex-president of the CII, on the Budget's worrying factor.