Jaitley to meet economists two days before presenting Union Budget

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2016 13:03 IST
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley will meet economists on Saturday, two days before presenting the Budget. (PTI Photo)

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has called a meeting with economists two days before he presents the Union Budget for 2016-17 on Monday.

Minister of state for finance, Jayant Sinha, and other senior officials of the ministry will be present at the meeting on Saturday morning.

Officials confirmed the 90-minute meeting, but refused to say what the agenda was.

No finance minister has called a meeting with economists two days before the presentation of the budget, especially since, by Saturday, the budget would have been finalised barring some last-minute changes.

Industry officials said the last-minute meeting might have been scheduled to get a grip on some quick-fix measures to package a bitter pill for the economy.

It is speculated that the government may not stick to the fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2016-17.

With economic activity not picking up at the desired pace and tax revenue staying sluggish, the government had last year redrawn the fiscal consolidation road map by stretching the time to reach the fiscal deficit figure of 3% of GDP from 2 to three years.

There is little doubt about the government meeting current year fiscal deficit target of 3.9%, but achieving 3.5% in 2016-17 and 3% for 2017-18 is widely seen as uncertain.

The Saturday meeting may be aimed at sensitising economists about some of the macro-economic indicators as well as fiscal health of the government, besides seeking some inputs on expenditure cuts and fiscal manoeuvring.

Jaitley had met economists as part of pre-Budget meetings in January. During that round, he met industry captains, bankers, farmers and trade union representatives.

The meeting with economists will come a day after the Economic Survey for 2015-16, which presents the state of economy, is presented in Parliament on Friday.

On Saturday, chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian is also scheduled to meet media to explain finer points of the Economic Survey. The CEA is the author of the survey.

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