Modi holds pre-Budget meet with industry, bankers, and economists
New Delhi: Unfazed by projections of GDP growth slowing to an 11-year low in the current fiscal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said fundamentals of the Indian economy are strong and it has the capacity to bounce back.
Modi, who seems to have taken charge of the efforts to revive the economy, has over the past few days held as many as 12 brainstorming meetings with different stakeholders over various issues affecting the economy and to thrash out appropriate policy interventions in the upcoming Budget.
The Prime Minister met economists, private equity and venture capitalists, business leaders and agri experts on Thursday at Niti Aayog, and called for focussed efforts from all stakeholders to achieve the target of nearly doubling the size of the Indian economy to $5 trillion by 2024.
After the meeting, Modi tweeted: "Unwavering in our commitment to become a five trillion dollar economy!"
"Today, had in-depth consultations with economists, business leaders and policy experts from various fields on diverse range of subjects. Such synergy augurs well for national progress," he said in the tweet.
He has been devoting a considerable amount of time in personally overseeing the policy matrix aimed at engineering a quick turnaround of the Indian economy, which is estimated to grow at 5 per cent in 2019-20, significantly lower than 6.8 per cent growth rate last fiscal and the lowest pace of GDP growth for a full financial year since the global financial crisis in 2008-09.
"We must all work together and start to think like a nation," an official press statement quoted him as saying at the meeting. At the pre-Budget meeting at Niti Aayog, Modi called for a focussed effort from all stakeholders in order to achieve the target of $5 trillion economy, the statement said. The Prime Minister said he was happy that the two-hour open discussion has brought to the forefront the experience of people on the ground and those working in their respective fields.
This, he said, would enhance the synergy between policymakers and various stakeholders.
The idea of $5 trillion economy is not a sudden development and is based on a deep understanding of the strengths of the country.
"The strong absorbent capacity of the Indian economy shows the strength of basic fundamentals of the Indian economy and its capacity to bounce back," he said adding sectors like tourism, urban development, infrastructure, and agri-based industry have a great potential to taking forward the economy and for employment generation.
He said open discussions and brainstorming in such forums lead to a healthy debate and understanding of the issues.
This would also foster a positive mood and "can do" spirit in the society, he said.
According to sources, the participants urged the government to focus on credit expansion, exports growth, governance of Public Sector Banks (PSBs), increasing consumption and job creation. As many as 40 experts and economists attended the meeting.
Modi assured them that he would act on suggestions that can be implemented in the short-term and also consider long-term suggestions in due course as these require structural reforms.
In a tweet, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the meeting "discussed a wide range of issues relating to economic growth, startups & innovation."
The high-profile meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal besides Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, CEO Amitabh Kant and other senior officials of the think-tank. Bibek Debroy, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, too was present at the meeting.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was not present, as she was holding pre-Budget meetings with party workers at BJP headquarters.
The Niti Aayog meeting assumes significance as the government is in the process of formulating Budget proposals for 2020-21. The government's focus will be on accelerating economic growth, which is estimated to slip to an 11-year low of 5 per cent during 2019-20.
The prime minister on Monday interacted with top business tycoons to discuss the issues facing the economy and measures needed to boost growth and create jobs.
Among others, the Niti Aayog meeting was attended by NIPFP economist Ila Patnaik, former chief economic advisor Shankar Acharya, IGIDR Professor R Nagraj, KKR India CEO Sanjay Nayar, Ather Energy Co-founder and CEO Tarun Mehta, MakeMyTrip CEO Deep Kalra, Dabur India chief Mohit Malhotra, Bandhan Bank MD and CEO Chandra Shekhar Ghosh and CRISIL MD and CEO Ashu Suyash. Sitharaman will be presenting her second Union Budget on February 1.
A key factor driving the sharp slowdown in Indian economy is the manufacturing sector slump.
In response to the slowdown, the Reserve Bank has eased policy rates significantly during 2019, with a series of rate cuts since February 2019, while the government announced a large reduction in corporate tax rates in September in order to help boost new investment spending.