PM meets experts over economic policy ahead of Budget Session

Ahead of the Union Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday interacted with over 40 economists and other sectoral experts on the road as the government looks to revive the country's economic growth.

During the session, experts shared their views on various economic themes such as the macro-economy, agriculture and rural development, employment, health and education, manufacturing and exports, urban development, infrastructure and connectivity, according to a statement from the Niti Aayog, which had organised the meeting.

After the meeting, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said there were suggestions directed at both the upcoming Budget Session and for long-term structural reforms.

Niti Aayog has set up a task force to examine high frequency employment data. And the numbers are startling and not as disappointing as showed by the Labour bureau, he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attended the meeting along with other Cabinet ministers. NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar, and senior officers from the government and NITI Aayog were also present.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of latest estimates of national income by Central Statistics Office (CSO) which showed that India's growth is expected to slow down to a four-year low of 6.5 per cent in 2017-18 from 7.1 per cent a year ago. But, the World Bank numbers released on Wednesday are quite optimistic — the economic growth is expected to accelerate to 7.3% this year and 6.7 per cent in 2017.

Prime Minister lauded experts for their suggestions and observations, on various aspects of the economy.

Various groups interacted amongst themselves and then crystallised their ideas and made presentation before the PM, Kumar said, adding there were experts from all across the country – regional representation, sectoral representation.

The ideas ranged from entire spectrum of economy. One of the suggestion was to create clusters in different districts for agriculture which could specialise in one field.Also, there was a unanimous support to the National Medical Commission Bill.

Kumar said the statistics on lack of employment generation has been overstated. Niti Aayog had set up a task force with leading experts and professors and they have done big data analytics and come out with startling numbers which is in contrast with labour bureau.

There is better news on employment on what have been showed, he said. There were also suggestions that India should adopt a stronger export strategy.

[ 11 January 2018]