|Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha|
“I think we are in a very good shape as far as fiscal management is concerned. That was appreciated by all economists,” he said while interacting with reporters after a meeting of economists which was chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at NITI Aayog.
He made it clear that the government’s fiscal position is strong enough to bear the impact of implementation of Seventh Pay Commission and OROP.
The Seventh Pay Commission report in December is expected to recommend a hike in salary of central government employees. OROP is likely to result in an outgo of Rs 8,000-10,000 crore this fiscal.
The pre-Budget meeting discussed various issues, including agriculture productivity, job creation and fiscal expenditure.
“We had some of India’s most eminent economists and commentators there. Obviously, it is very early in the cycle to start the consultation. But we felt that if there were good ideas, we could incorporate them even in this fiscal year. Obviously, for the preparation of the current budget, we could begin the work on that right now,” he said.
“It was very good interaction and we look forward to incorporating much of this for this fiscal year as well as coming fiscal.”
There were several topics that came up, Sinha said, adding that “one very important topic that we spent time on is agriculture and what we could do to increase productivity in agriculture”.
The meeting also dwelt at length on fiscal expenditure and how to ensure fiscal expenditure, particularly public investment, could be as productive as possible.
“Third major area that we spoke about is obviously the financial sector… more credit for agriculture, MSMEs and what could we do further to strengthen our banks. The final area that we also spent time on is how to ensure we are able to create more jobs for young people, whether it is in the manufacturing sector or the service sector,” he said.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Urjit Patel were present.
Besides, the meeting was attended by Finance Secretary Ratan P Watal, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Financial Services Secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal.
Economists such as Subir Gokarn, Director of Research at the Brookings Institution India, Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group, and Rajiv Lall, Vice-Chairman IDFC Ltd, also participated.
Inputs with PTI