Economists advise Modi on farm incomes, fiscal & jobs

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the 2018-19 Union , Prime Minister brainstormed with over 40 and other experts and discussed “all issues” linked to the economy.
The meeting was organized by , on the theme “Economic Policy – The Road Ahead.”

During the session, participants 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. NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said a large part of the discussion revolved around improving farmers‘ income and various suggestions were made to raise productivity and market access, including agro clusters in districts. The NITI Aayog will work with the Agriculture Ministry to implement the suggestions.

The meeting also discussed the fiscal situation but Kumar declined to provide details, citing the impending budget. It also discussed the issue of long term capital gains tax but no details were available. Kumar also said there was overwhelming support for the bill from the experts.

The meeting also discussed the job situation and Kumar said the NITI Aayog task force will unveil its new jobs data soon. The recapitalisation of banks was also discussed and Kumar said the view was that recapitalisation should also be accompanied by governance reforms in the banks. Suggestions were also made

to treat NBFCs separately, given their role in providing credit to small and medium enterprises. Labour reforms were also taken up and various suggestions have been made.

In his intervention, the PM thanked various participants for their suggestions and observations on various aspects of the economy. In particular, he appreciated the quality of suggestions that had come from various subject experts, an official statement said. Finance minister Arun Jaitley acknowledged the thought-provoking suggestions.

“The PM was present for a significant period and showed keen interest in the presentations,” said a source who was present in the meeting. The meeting comes against the backdrop of data which showed the economy is estimated to grow 6.5%, a four-year low in 2017-18, hurt by the impact of demonetisation and rollout issues linked to GST. But the data also showed that the economy is expected to perform better in the second half. The meeting was attended by several union ministers.

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