Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a critical two-day meeting during January 3-4 to review the five-year vision documents of various ministries and departments, a senior government official told FE. The meeting comes at a time when growth plunged to an over six-year low of 4.5% in the September quarter, with analysts warning that the economy is in the midst of a prolongued phase of slowdown.
As many as 10 ‘sectoral groups’ comprising secretaries of several departments will give presentations before the council of ministers, headed by Modi. Key ministers – including home minister Amit Shah, finance and corporate affairs minister Nirmala Sitharaman, transport and MSME minister Nitin Gadkari and commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal – are expected to attend the meeting, among others. Some of the ideas presented in these vision documents may find mention in the next Budget.
The meeting will focus on ways to boost growth as well as private investments and help India turn into a $5-trillion economy by 2024, as envisioned by the Prime Minister.
Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar is expected to give a presentation on behalf of the sectoral group on finance and corporate affairs.
A brief review of the measures taken by the government recently to perk up growth, including the corporate tax rate cut, push for credit offtake, recapitalisation of state-run banks, a WTO-compatible scheme to boost exports, and a Rs 25,000-crore fund (including contributions by LIC and SBI) committed for housing’ is expected. Steps required to ensure ‘ease of living’ is also likely to feature in the discussions.
The economy is going through a critical phase. Citing growth concerns, Moody’s recently trimmed India’s sovereign rating outlook to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’. Industrial production shrank in September to an eight-year low, while eight core infrastructure industries witnessed their worst contraction at least since April 2005 in September. Exports declined in five of the first eight months of this fiscal, and banks, non-food credit growth was hovering around a two-year low until recently before slowing further.
The Modi government had first set up the sectoral groups in 2016 on key areas, including finance and corporate affairs, commerce and industry, agriculture and allied sectors, transport and communications, energy and environment, health, sanitation and urban development, education and social development, governance and crisis management. The composition of the groups has changed over time, as some of the top bureaucrats have since retired.
Source: Financial Express