The Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the Prime Minister has identified 10 key areas, including economic growth and accelerating employment, to start work on immediately.
Briefing reporters after the EAC’s first meeting on Wednesday, Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy said the council will again meet in November to discuss “critical issues” with next year’s budget in mind. “Next few months our focus will be on the preparation of the budget,” he said.
The EAC was set up last month amid concerns over a slowdown as economic growth slumped to a three-year-low of 5.7 per cent in the June quarter. Debroy, as the head of the five-member panel, chaired the EAC meeting, with the government’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian making a presentation.
Debroy said there was a consensus among the members about the various reasons for the slowdown of the economy. However, he said he was not ready to answer the question on the reasons for slowdown.
Debroy said the council has identified major priorities for accelerating growth and employment over the next six months, identifying 10 themes around which detailed reports will be prepared by its members and the EAC will make recommendations in “collaboration and consultation” with existing government bodies.
“Whenever we will take any view on monetary policy, we will discuss with RBI…It is not our job to push those recommendations to the finance ministry, our job is to report to the Prime Minister,” he said.
He said the council is focused on critical interventions related to accelerating economic growth and employment, with greater social and financial inclusion, based on rigorous economic analysis.
Not going into elaborate details, Debroy said: “Its (EAC’s) role is to advice to the PM, to make recommendations to the Prime Minsiter. They are not meant to be announced in interactions with the media.”
Principal Advisor of Niti Aayog, Ratan Watal, who is also the member secretary of the council, said the EAC will work closely with government agencies, stakeholders and financial institutions. “We will be using the resources of Niti Ayog in helping us moving forward,” he said.
Earlier, Chief Economic Advisor to Ministry of Finance, Arvind Subramanian gave a presentation to the council on the state of the country’s economy.
Others members in the group include economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal (part-time members).
A government statement before the EAC meeting said it will address “all issues of emergent importance and will engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders”.
It said that the Council comprising of reputed economists and experts “is mandated to analyze all critical economic and other issues referred to it by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and advising him thereon”.
“It is also required to address issues of macro-economic importance and presenting views thereon,” it added.
The EAC meeting happened a day after the International Monetary Fund pared the country’s GDP growth forecast for 2017 to 6.7 percent from 7.2 percent earlier, attributing it to demonetisation and introduction of the GST.
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