Sunday, April 07, 2013

Government Should Take Urgent Measures To Improve The Sentiments Of Indian Capital Markets
~~Suman Mukhopadhyay
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram (left) with Japan's
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the latter's official
residence in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: The Hindu
Finance Minister P Chidambaram last week said, "The country is capable of absorbing $50 billion (1 billion= 100 Cr) in foreign direct investment annually". 

The minister is currently in Japan doing roadshows to promote India as an investment destination. Pitching India to investors, he said the country's banking system is sound and rules surrounding foreign investment are clear. He said, India should have a growth rate of at least 8%. He expects infrastructure projects to accelerate growth in FY14, as in the last two months, the investment panel had cleared projects worth $14 billion (~Rs.76, 000 Cr).  

As far as the inflation is concerned, it is a fact now, that we are near the government's tolerance level at 4-5%. The Finance Minister also, spoke of bringing down the Fiscal Deficit of the GDP to around 3% by FY17. 

Recently, there were media reports that, the government of India is ready with the direct taxes code (DTC) to shower goodies on taxpayers. On the menu list are higher basic exemption limit, increase in the allowances such as medical and conveyance that have remained unchanged for many years, and bigger incentives for savings.

The former finance minister Yashwant Sinha who headed the standing committee on finance that vetted the code has already suggested that the basic exemption limit be raised to Rs.3 lakh. It stands at Rs.2 lakh right now. 

The Finance minister P Chidambaram has said that he would want to introduce the bill in the budget session, the second leg of which will begin on April 22, 2013 and  would continue for a month.  The standing committee has suggested that income upto Rs.3 lakh be exempt from tax, Rs.3 lakh to 10 lakh be levied 10% tax, 20% on Rs.10 lakh to Rs.20 lakh and 30% on income over Rs.20 lakh.At present the peak 30% rate is levied on income in excess of Rs.10 lakh.

Similarly, the various deductions that have not been increased for many years could also be revised up through the Code. These include the 800 transport allowance, 15,000 for medical expenditure, 15,000 for health insurance for family and self and 12,000 for school fees.

All these are fine, but why there is no talk of lifting the sentiments of Indian capital markets, which is currently under ventilation?

A Mumbai based Financial Weekly writes: "The falling Sensex, drifting Nifty, lack of good corporate governance and the political distrust all have resulted in the closure of a record number of demat accounts in the last six months. Ask any depository participant and verify it". Yes, the things are going from bad to worse since the UPA-II came to power. The UPA-I did not have much problem, because the NDA government during its tenure built a strong foundation. The UPA government could not hold on to that and started doling out cash in the form of Farm Loan waiver and other nonsensical things. The result is the high fiscal deficit. 

In between the Mr.P Chidambaram's predecessor, who is now busy sending  convicts to gallows, passed two years, without much work. 

In such a circumstance when we have high fiscal deficit and the chance of excessive concessions are not possible, the government, instead of giving too much dole out in terms of basic exemption of limit of IT, could cut the short term capital gains tax to zero or bring it down to 5%. This could give a new lease of life to the now, comatose Indian capital markets.

Meanwhile, Indian Insurance Industries regulator- IRDA’s decision to allow insurance companies to invest up to 15% of the Share Capital of companies did not have much multiplier effect in perking up the mood of the bulls in Indian capital markets. CLICK HERE.

Also, last month, addressing Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Executive Committee Members & Industry Representatives Board of India, SEBI chairman Mr.U K Sinha said, that the latter (SEBI) is set to roll out a plethora of measures for boosting capital market and economy. He said the regulator is coming up with various pro-active measures aimed at boosting the Capital Market and the different industry sectors including the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). Retail investors must also develop more faith in the market, he felt, and said that the SEBI wants more retail investors in the primary market. If any Mutual Fund company goes beyond the top 15 cities in the country, it will get an extra commission, he informed. For the Mutual Fund industry, the Regulator is taking a number of growth-boosting measures, he emphasized and talked about 'product labelling' which SEBI is planning to introduce in consultation with AMFI. He also hinted on allowing  investment of Pension money in the Capital Market, which currently is not permitted by the Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).  Investment of pension money in Capital Markets is accepted in many other countries where the Market is more mature and deep, he said and suggested that this norm should change. He also, said, that PSU-funded Mutual Fund companies and private Mutual Fund will be given a level-playing field or equal treatment n India. 


Therefore, I urge upon the Finance Minister of India, to quickly flush out some measures, so that the capital market participants are saved and this sector, revives from the current doom and gloom.  It is high time that Mr.P Chidambaram does something for the broker community and the small investors, who are passing through very difficult times. Many small investors are struck up in small and mid cap counters since the last 4-5 years.