India's finance minister seen walking budget tightrope as economy slows
NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's finance minister will be walking a tightrope when he presents an interim budget for the coming fiscal year on Monday, doling out more funds to woo voters and tax cuts to support industry while projecting a lower fiscal deficit before elections.
Asia's third-largest economy is facing its worst economic slowdown in nearly a decade, with shrinking manufacturing, slower jobs growth and high inflation limiting the government's ability to offer sops to voters or companies to boost growth.
Opinion polls predict defeat for the Congress-led ruling alliance in elections due by May amid widespread discontent with its mismanagement of the economy, high inflation and corruption scandals.
Officials say Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is likely to make a last-ditch attempt to win back voters by announcing more funds for health, rural jobs, roads and food subsidies, and to speak about the government's achievements in the last 10 years.