Budget to tackle rural distress, job creation, investments

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the inaugural session of first PIO Parliamentarian Conference in New Delhi

The select group of economists and various sector experts have been invited by NITI Aayog for the deliberations with the prime minister on "Economic Policy: The Road Ahead".

At an event held by the NITI Aayog ahead of the last Union Budget of Modi-led-Govt, in which over 40 economists exchanged their views on a variety of themes such as the macro-economy, agriculture, and rural development, employment, health and education, manufacturing and exports, urban development, infrastructure, transport and connectivity.

The meeting also discussed the fiscal situation but Kumar declined to provide details, citing the impending budget. When asked about the suggestion regarding long-term capital gains tax, he said the issue relates to budget and did not elaborate.

Also, there was a unanimous support to the National Medical Commission Bill.

Kumar added that NITI Aayog will soon come out with a new way of monitoring employment, based on various high-frequency data. Suggestions were also made to treat NBFCs separately, given their role in providing credit to small and medium enterprises.

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After the presentations, PM Modi assured the experts that the government will "attempt to make the best out of their informative suggestions and views which were presented in new ways through this initiative".

The meeting, according to a senior government official, will be attended by vice chairman and members of Niti Aayog, members of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), economists and sectoral experts.

The meeting follows the Central Statistics Office's forecast that GDP growth in the current financial year will slow to a four-year low of 6.5%, from the provisional 7.1% seen in 2016-17, dragged down by deceleration in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. But the data also showed that the economy is expected to perform better in the second half.

Rajiv Kumar said what emerged clearly out of the meeting was that Prime Minister's call for doubling farmer incomes "is not just a pie in the sky".

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