EAC-PM sets up task force on employment; to submit suggestions to Modi soon

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) has set up a task force on employment. The task force had its first meeting on Thursday and its brief will be to present to PM Narendra Modi a note or statement on what the government can do to alleviate growth slowdown, and hence, create jobs, Business Standard has learnt.

The members of the task force are EAC-PM Chairman and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, EAC-PM member Rathin Roy, former EAC-PM member Surjit Bhalla, former finance secretary Ratan Watal, former chief statistician Pronab Sen, former chief economic advisor Arvind Virmani, and economist Charan Singh.

The first priority of the task force will be to draft a note suggesting ways to revive growth and employment, said officials aware of the task force’s work. The panel will get into the issue of increasing employment in a more detailed manner.

Regarding the first note on the slowdown, there is some urgency. “There is no deadline given to the panel, but the tenure of the current EAC-PM ends on September 15. That can be taken as a deadline,” said an official.

At Thursday’s meeting, discussions revolved around growth and the participants gave their views on what to do about growth slowdown. “There were discussions on whether the slowdown was cyclical or structural. We discussed what the government can do to combat slowdown, and agreed to meet in a week with inputs. The idea was to look at macroeconomic conditions that are inhibiting economic activity, and thereby employment,” said another official.

There will be a written formal signed statement and communication by the EAC-PM to the PM. There will be further meetings.

India’s economic growth fell to 5.8 per cent in the January-March period of 2018-19 (FY19), the lowest in 20 quarters, due to a sharp slowdown in investment and manufacturing growth as well as a contraction in agricultural production. This pulled down gross domestic product expansion to 6.8 per cent in FY19, the slowest in the first stint of the Modi government. The economy’s revival will be a key challenge for the new finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. Economic growth in FY19 was way below the government’s own projections of 7.2 per cent in the first Advance Estimates and 7 per cent in the second one.

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