iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 29, 2014
After drilling a sense of commitment to the first-time BJP MPs in a special workshop on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a key meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley and top PMO and north block officials to finalise the Union Budget. While the government is tight-lipped about the budget meeting in Race Course Road complex, it is understood that PM Modi had a two-hour one-to-one meeting with Jaitley this month to discuss the forthcoming budget proposals.

Since taking over as FM, Jaitley has had informal exchanges with former FM P Chidambaram and former PM Manmohan Singh on the state of the economy. It is understood that the budget exercise is near completion with focus on revival of job economy and upgrading infrastructure in the country.

Just as PM Modi asked first-time MPs to do their due diligence before they speak, he has been involved in educating himself with the task ahead. No less than 20 ministries or departments including telecom, infrastructure, power, petroleum, commerce and industry have made lengthy presentations stretching to seven hours before the PM to explain the work they do and Modi suggesting new ideas to them.

The key ministries or departments still to brief Modi are finance due to budget exercise, home, defence and defence production. “It will take the PM another two months to understand the nuts and bolts of the government after which he will start to take new initiatives,” said a senior official.

In the meantime, the Centre is having a relook at laws in order to facilitate India to export arms and to tweak the defence off-set policy to ensure that manufacturing is done in the country. It has already asked key departments for views on 100% FDI in defence so that a final decision is arrived at.