EVEN THOUGH finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has muted expectations from the upcoming February 1 interim Budget (vote-on-account), corporate India and the stock market never cease to anticipate. So what if the full Budget of 2024 will only be announced in July by the next government in power following the General Elections!

They do expect the vote-on-account to provide valuable cues on many fronts — whether aggressive Central capital expenditure will continue; whether subsidy burden will be controlled; will green shoots in private investment be aided by policy push; will PLI be expanded beyond the 14 sectors; how will India strengthen exports; tax reforms, banking reforms or even ease of doing business…

Our package ‘Eye On Budget’ in this issue captures the massive strides made by the government on many of these fronts and the great expectations arising out of success stories so far. A special pre-Budget interview with Rajesh Kumar Singh, secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is particularly insightful. DPIIT is commerce ministry’s nodal authority to promote industry in India. It coordinates between ministries for production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes, facilitates investment and promotes new technologies. Read his discussion with Fortune India’s Joe C. Mathew.

Meanwhile, in India’s quest to be a $10 trillion economy, at least five states have rightfully set out on the path to create $1 trillion state GDPs each. Read about this fascinating race — and who leads.

It’s that time of the year when everyone — from the middle class to the well-to-do and from ultra-rich to the poorest — plans how to handle their money in the New Year. Fortune India’s annual special issue on ‘Best Investments’ is our contribution to help in those vital decisions regarding your financials. Led by Fortune India-Morningstar’s annual Best Mutual Funds study and Fortune India-SecureNow’s annual Best Insurers study, it also includes the customary private wealth roundtable where India’s leading money managers provide their recommendations for the year, outlook on digital assets such as cryptos, gold or real estate. In this year’s overview, V. Keshavdev explains why volatility will rule all investment decisions in 2024.

For those seeking risk-free investments, gold has always been one of the better bets. Especially, in the midst of the global economic and geo-political upheaval; growing threat of hyperinflation and fears of a global recession. In 2023, gold delivered a return of 11%, higher than most equities and better than Sensex (8%) and Nifty (9%). With central banks around the world stocking up on the yellow metal as a hedge against uncertainty, gold prices will trend higher in 2024.

Comparatively riskier real estate investments have also set a trend in 2023 that is likely to continue in the New Year. Real estate consultancy Anarock says 2023 saw the maximum price jump in a decade in first nine months of the calendar in top seven cities — up 11%.

We do hope our ‘Best Investments’ special issue and the accompanying pre-Budget package provide you with valuable insights to plan your investments in the New Year.

Happy investing!

Fortune India wishes you, dear readers, a very Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous Year 2024!

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