Govt reconstitutes EAC-PM till 2021, Bibek Debroy retained as chairman

Bibek Debroy
The government reconstituted the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister for a period of another two years on Wednesday. Rathin Roy from the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Shamika Ravi of Brookings Institution have been dropped as part-time members. Sajjid Chenoy, India economist at JP Morgan is the new part-time member.

Part-time member Ashima Goyal of Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research and full time members Bibek Debroy of Niti Aayog and Ratan Watal will continue to be part of the EAC-PM. Debroy retains his role as chairman of the EAC-PM while former Finance Secretary Watal will continue being the member-secretary.

“Government of India has reconstituted the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) for a period of two years with effect from 26th September 2019,” said an official statement. In effect, the strength of the EAC-PM reduces to four, with two full-time members and two part-time members, from five.

No reasons were given for Roy and Ravi’s ouster. Earlier this year Roy, who is the director of NIPFP and a Business Standard columnist, has spoken on a ‘silent fiscal crisis’ pointing out to the stark difference between the 2018-19 revised tax revenue estimates and provisional actuals. 

He has also criticized the centre’s plan to issue overseas sovereign bonds and advised caution on the same.

Ravi has also warned about the state of the economy, saying the country was facing a structural slowdown. She has said on Twitter last month that dealing with the slowdown needed major reforms and not mere tinkering. “Leaving economy to the finance ministry is like leaving the growth of a firm to its accounts department,” she had said.

The EAC-PM was revived in September 2017 with a term of two years. It replaced the erstwhile PMEAC which was headed by former Reserve Bank of India governor C Rangarajan during the terms of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

The council was tasked with analyzing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the PM, according to its terms of reference. The body could also take up the issues suo motu.

It has submitted around three-four papers to the Prime Minister’s office, on issues like employment, fiscal situation, economic growth, manufacturing and infrastructure. None of its work has been made public.

 Its latest work, still ongoing, is a taskforce on employment, it has submitted a brief to the PMO on what to do to alleviate growth slowdown, and hence create jobs. A more detailed report is expected to be submitted on the same,

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