The upcoming Union budget will be instrumental in shaping the contours of political and economic reforms during the remaining term of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Given that it will be the last full budget before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the government needs to send a strong signal about its willingness to undertake serious reforms.
While there are several important issues that need to be addressed, one that requires immediate attention is the ailing banking sector. A robust and well-capitalized banking sector supports capital formation and economic activity by facilitating intermediation of resources between savers and borrowers. India saves close to 30% of its annual output. Given the importance of the banking sector in the financial system, it has a crucial role to play in channelling these savings to productive investments. The mounting stock of bad loans, which amounts to over Rs7 trillion, suggests that something has gone wrong with the process of financial intermediation in the banking sector and needs to be fixed.
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Jonathan D. Pollack will moderate a discussion with Ambassador Frank Wisner on potential nuclear conflicts in Asia and shifting U.S. nuclear policy on April 1.