NITI Aayog: PM Modi for taking full advantage of prevailing global environment

New Delhi(PTI): Keen to encash on drop in oil prices and favourable global economic outlook, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today courted economists for ideas to make the ensuing budget growth-oriented and bring investors back.

At the meeting of the newly created NITI Aayog, Modi asked for their views on the state of economy, ways to perk up revenue mobilisation, expenditure rationalisation and suggestions to put India back on high growth path.
“India must develop fast, taking advantage of current global environment, to meet the aspirations of the people,” an official release quoting Modi said.

Sharply falling crude oil prices in the international market are likely to help India save a significant foreign exchange outgo. At the same time slowdown in the Chinese economy and Eurozone continuing recession presented India as an attractive investment destination as well as market. As Prime Minister, it was Modi’s first visit to NITI Aayog that has been created after abolishing socialist-era Planning Commission. In a follow up, Modi will meet Chief Ministers on Sunday.

He said an objective of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog was to establish a dynamic institutional mechanism where “eminent individuals outside the government system” could contribute to policy making. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the meeting was organised with “some very eminent economists with regard to the state of economy and steps required to boost investment, growth and even specific suggestions with regard to the Union Budget”. Niti Aayog is a “think tank” also and today’s meeting was in that context, Jaitley added. The release further said Modi emphasised on the need for cooperative federalism, and added that he favoured healthy competition among states for development.

The economists stressed on the need for the government to work towards high growth, predictable tax regime, fiscal prudence and rapid infrastructure development. Vijay Kelkar, Nitin Desai, Bimal Jalan, Rajiv Lall, R Vaidyanathan, Subir Gokarn, Parthasarathi Shome, P Balakrishnan, Rajiv Kumar, Ashok Gulati, Mukesh Butani and G N Bajpai were among the economists who shared their views.

A large number of other suggestions were also made on various sectors of the economy, including on agricultural sector and poverty alleviation during the meeting that lasted for about three hours, the release said.
NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya along with two full time members Bibek Debroy and V K Saraswat were also present in the meeting. The Prime Minister spoke of the government’s recent initiatives, including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, direct cash transfer of LPG subsidy, and Swachh Bharat.

Elaborating, Jaitley said the suggestions were also in relation to the financing of infrastructure, how to attract investment and boost domestic savings. State of agricultural sector was particularly discussed, he said.
Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar made a presentation on the scope of the new body. The first meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog will be convened by Prime Minister on February 8. The Governing Council of NITI Aayog comprises state chief ministers and Lieutenant Governors of all union territories. The first meeting of the Council is expected to provide further suggestions on setting efficient processes and mechanism of interactions between Centre and states and also between NITI and stakeholders.