Economic news will turn speculative in the coming weeks. We will either be sold hope or fear depending on the intent of the newsmakers. The budget will always be an event around which volatility will be more, speculative activity will rise, guesswork will be dominant, and the excitement quotient will be high. By habit, investors think budgets create deep change. But, in reality, budgets only alter the financial prudence of the government, report how well they have delivered on past promises and allow markets to judge the divergence in the government’s working performance.
Often, governments show a greater will to promise more reforms in budgets. This happened in 1997. Such budgets titled pompously as dream budgets still need enormous granular follow-through actions. Policies must result in translation. The worst kept secret about the Indian reforms story is that most reforms happen outside the budget. Delicensing, VAT and GST were all brought up separately and went onto become hugely successful. The one thing this budget needs to accomplish is to raise confidence within and outside India. The budget needs to make people believe more in future growth. And, show the world that we mean business and want to grow faster.