India's credit rating unaffected by Budget 2013, says S&P

Standard & Poor's (S&P) today said the Budget for fiscal year 2013-14 will have no impact on the country's sovereign credit rating.

"The latest budget details have no rating impact on our sovereign credit rating on India (BBB-/Negative/A-3)," S&P said in a statement today.

The government has revised its estimate for the deficit in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, at 5.2 per cent of GDP, smaller than the 5.3 per cent target earlier, but "there is little progress in structural reforms to reduce the vulnerability of the government's fiscal position", S&P said.

Out of the three main rating agencies, S&P and Fitch have India on negative watch, the lowest investment grade among the BRIC group of large emerging economies. A cut would take the country's credit rating to junk status.

"The ratings on India continue to reflect the country's favourable long-term growth prospects, moderately deep capital markets, and a high foreign exchange reserves. India's large fiscal deficits and debt, and its lower middle-income economy constrain the ratings," S&P said.

Going ahead, "further developments in India's economic growth prospects, its external position, fiscal reforms (including subsidies and GST), and political climate will determine the medium-term trajectory of the sovereign ratings on India."

Despite the weak economic environment and the "political temptation" to increase fiscal expenditures ahead of a general election, the government has presented a relatively prudent Budget, S&P said.

It, however, cautioned that that there is a potential for the government to exceed its budgeted expenditures.

"For example, India is still vulnerable to spikes in oil and other commodity prices. Although the government allowed a gradual increase in diesel prices earlier this year, the timing and the extent of such increases are uncertain. If the government enacts the food security bill, the fiscal burden from food subsidy can increase," S&P said.

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