The final full budget of the Modi government before elections in 2019 was widely expected to be ambitious, despite the limitations of a stretched fiscal deficit, a messy banking system, and a government delivery system that is not getting any better despite every effort.
Despite that, the budget has been very high on intent, promising massive interventions in sectors, most notably healthcare where the world’s biggest health insurance scheme has been announced at Rs 5 lacs for every family with, continued support to infrastructure, and some tinkering with customs duties, thankfully limited thanks to the GST.
For electronics and more specifically mobile handsets, there could be a slight increase in prices thanks to the increase in duties from 15% to 20%. Done more to encourage domestic manufacturing than anything else, we expect this to have limited to zero impact, especially in the budget and mid-range category. Jumps will probably be seen in the premium to high range categories, starting at 16K and more.
For autos, another area that interests us, the focus remains on enabling a better ecosystem for the user, by way of investments in roads and other infra.
The limited changes in the tax rules, from the standard deduction of Rs 40,000 available to salaried individuals to the higher exemptions on TDS for senior citizens, expect none to minor impact on overall consumption.
A serious long-term impact can be expected in the rural and small-town India, with the huge push for increasing farm incomes, providing protection against calamities through insurance, more credit and more. Should delivery actually match promise, these should lead to a serious uptick in rual consumption, thanks to job creation as well as more income in those areas. For firms in the sectors we cover, that could mean faster roll out of regional language friendly handsets, expansion of rural and tier 2 service networks and more.
Expect the two-wheeler category in autos to give a loud cheer to the budget, as they will reap any early gains to come.