PM, Jaitley to meet Niti Aayog officials, experts today to discuss Budget

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley will get views on the Budget for 2017-18, job creation through skill development and other issues at a meeting with experts on Tuesday.

There will be 13 people —from the NITI Aayog, economists and others with expertise — who will make presentations. The Aayog wanted to hold a pre-Budget meeting with the PM but the latter’s office suggested the agenda be broadened to the overall economy, sources said. 

The meeting is to cover job creation and skill development, agriculture and issues for the Budget, though participants would raise others, too. The theme is ‘Economic policy reform, Road ahead’. 

Those invited include Pulak Ghosh of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore; Neelkanth Mishra of Credit Suisse; Vivek Dehejia, professor with Carleton University in Canada, and economist Surjit Bhalla. Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, chief executive Amitabh Kant, its members, all five secretaries at the finance ministry, and industrial policy secretary Ramesh Abhishek would be there. 

After a discussion, those present would be split into three groups. Then, the issues discussed will be presented before the PM in the evening.

The Reserve Bank of India has reduced its forecast for economic growth this year to 7.1 per cent, from the 7.6 per cent it had earlier estimated. And, the Asian Development Bank has cut its estimate to seven per cent, from 7.4 per cent earlier, due to the impact of demonetisation on economic activity.

The economy expanded by 7.1 per cent and 7.3 per cent in the first and second quarters of 2016-17. Various economists think demonetisation could pull down the growth rate for the year by up to two percentage points. An official said the PM would also take stock of Aayog initiatives to promote the digital payments, such as the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana. Estimated expenditure on the first phase of the schemes (up to mid-April 2017) is likely to be Rs 340 crore.

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