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India

Factbox: What's in focus for India's high stakes federal budget

(Reuters) - India’s ruling party has promised “game changer” plans to boost economic growth when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the 2021/2022 federal budget on Feb. 1.

A man counts Indian currency notes inside a shop in Mumbai, India, August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/Files

Here’s a look at some top topics she is likely to cover on Monday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government tries to bring the country’s economy back on track:

** HEALTHCARE SPENDING:

India is likely to double healthcare spending in the next fiscal year with the aim of raising expenditure in the sector to 4% of gross domestic output in the coming four years, as the country looks to fix shortcomings exposed by the pandemic.

The government could also increase a health tax from the current 1% of income and corporate tax to fund the new programme.

** PRIVATISATION DRIVE:

India is likely to aim to raise $40 billion from privatisation of a whole host of companies in energy, mining and banking, and selling minority stake of large companies such as Life Insurance Corp.

** BAD BANK:

India’s central bank is expecting a sharp rise in bad loans in the banking system due to the pandemic.

Aiming to boost lending in the economy and improve the valuation of state-run banks before selling stakes in them, the government could finally announce the creation of a “bad bank”, where bad assets of state-run banks could be parked and later sold at a discounted price in the market.

** DEVELOPMENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTION:

India has set itself an ambitious target of building infrastructure worth 1.02 trillion in the country. However, funding these infrastructure projects may be a challenge given the revenue constraints and strained banks' loan books. Sitharaman is likely to announce here a dedicated development financial institution to facilitate financing greenfield infrastructure projects.

** IMPORT DUTY:

India is considering hiking import duties by 5%-10% on more than 50 items including smartphones, electronic components and appliances. The move to increase import duties is part of Modi’s “self-reliant India” campaign that aims to promote and support domestic manufacturing.

Compiled by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Alex Richardson

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