India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is staking the success of her fiscal math on a big-bang share sale of the nation’s largest state-run insurer.
With tax revenue seen shrinking as a percentage of the total budget for a third straight year, Sitharaman will be relying on the ₹2.1 trillion ($29 billion) she plans to raise by selling state-owned assets to bridge the budget gap. A bulk of that -- as much as 900 billion rupees -- is likely to come from sale of shares in Life Insurance Corp. of India, which has total assets of $434 billion.
A lot of preparation will be needed before the “big-bang" stake sale can go through, said Pranjul Bhandari, Chief India economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Mumbai.
Changes to a law and a buy-in from employees’ unions are some of the preparatory work needed for selling a stake in LIC.
There is a chance that the stake sale -- which investors likened to the initial public offer of Saudi Aramco -- may not happen next year, and that could derail Sitharaman’s budget calculations, analysts said.
“There might be a potential slippage," Bhandari told BloombergQuint. “In terms of the math there might be a slippage of 0.3% of gross domestic product in revenues if these asset sales don’t take place."
Disinvestment targets have been missed several times in the previous years.
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