The finance minister has been able to deliver a balanced and inclusive budget with focus on poor, women and employment generation for youth. He has also steered clear of any large dollops of populism though the temptation would have been high, given that this was the last full-fledged Budget ahead of the 2014 general elections.
The stock market reacted negatively but expectations had run ahead of the ground situation and thus, cannot be taken as a verdict on budget proposals.
While there are no big-bang announcements, a number of enabling steps have been taken that will take benefits of growth to hitherto untouched areas in the coming years. There is a genuine effort to deepen and widen the insurance market. The budget has also lots to offer for the financial markets.
A big push for raising funds for infrastructure projects has come by way of allowing Infrastructure companies to float tax-free bonds. However, one also expected the Budget to restore the exclusive limit for investment in these securities.
While increase in surcharge on corporate tax and dividend distribution tax is mildly negative, the finance minister has assured that they will be only for a period of one year.