Many Indian customs are surprising to outsiders – standing to sing the national anthem before any screening at any cinema, for example, or the halwa ceremony that precedes the unveiling of the national budget. The gelatinous, ghee-based dessert was prepared in New Delhi and distributed this week among government employees who have begun printing the most significant document of India’s economic year and will be isolated from their families and other outsiders until it is unveiled on July 10. A little ‘sweet dish’ is the least the government can offer the 100 officials involved in putting the budget together.
That may, however, be one of the only sugary sweet elements in the government’s first budget since Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, was voted in with a strong mandate – leaving him with no excuse not to fulfil his campaign promises of reviving growth and embarking on fiscal consolidation. Read more
The Ghanaian government’s 2013 budget was presented to parliament on Tuesday, outlining plans to gradually bring the country’s fiscal deficit down to 9 per cent of GDP from its 2012 level of just over 12 per cent.
In the first major piece of economic policy since presidential elections held in December, the National Democratic Congress government led by president John Mahama said it would raise taxes and control government spending to calm concerns over a fiscal gap which grew to almost double its target level in 2012. But observers are skeptical about the extent of its commitment to balancing its books. Read more
When Palaniappan Chidambaram, India’s finance minister, presented his budget on Thursday there were elements that moved markets and elements that analysts and economists pounced on.
But there was only one element that provoked any reaction from Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, who appeared largely bored by Chidambaram’s speech. This was a proposal to set up a public sector bank especially for women. Read more
By Saurabh Mukherjea of Ambit Group
When Manmohan Singh launched India’s economic reform programme as finance minister back in 1991, the country had a broken economic model, less than $1bn in foreign exchange reserves, a devalued currency, and a dire need for an IMF bailout.
Now Singh is prime minister and a lot else has changed, not least the economic model. But, as Thursday’s budget showed, the old resistance to structural reform is still very much alive. Read more
Nigeria’s long-delayed 2013 budget was finally signed off on Monday by president Goodluck Jonathan, ending months of disagreements between the executive and legislature over spending plans.
A key sticking point has been setting the benchmark oil price, which determines how much the government can spend and how much it must save. The spenders have won, though concerns will linger over optimistic assumptions about the health of Nigeria’s oil industry. Read more
Turkey won itself a dubious honour at the weekend: a fuel tax hike made it the mainstream economy with the most expensive petrol in the world. It all depends on the vagaries of the exchange rate of course, but the new price of TL4.83 a litre, or €2.08, outstrips Norway’s €2.06, according to AFP, leaving other high fuel tax economies such as Italy, the Netherlands and Spain some way behind.
Then the government followed by increasing gas and electricity rates by 10 per cent on Monday. Read more
By Alen Kovac of Erste Bank
The Fitch rating agency’s decision this month to upgrade its outlook on Croatia to stable and affirm the country’s investment grade status was more than welcome.
But Croatia needs to make further efforts to secure the stabilty of its credit ratings over the next few years. Read more
By Gokul Chaudhri
Pranab Mukherjee, India’s finance minister, stated in his national budget announcement on Friday that the life of a finance minister is not easy, and that crafting economic policy often requires one to do things that may be painful in the short run, but may be good in the long run.
Investors in India Inc will discover that as a result of this budget they may need to bear the effects of some serious extra tax burdens in the coming year. Read more
For months, Russia has managed to largely insulate itself from the Eurozone crisis. GDP rose 4.2 per cent in 2011, according to the Kremlin, and is predicted to grow 2.3 per cent this year, according to Renaissance Capital. But a scoop from Russian daily Vedomosti today suggests the Russian government may be a bit more concerned about the country’s economic situation than it has let on.
According to Vedomosti, the finance ministry has already gone ahead and frozen a Rb200bn ($6.4bn)-sized chunk of state funds to be used in the event of a new crisis. Read more