Veteran Congressman Pranab Mukherjee on Monday took over as the Finance Minister and held meetings with top ministry officials to deliberate on various issues faced by the slackening economy as well as the forthcoming Budget.
Immediately after assuming charge, Mukherjee had a series of meetings with all the senior officials of the ministry and reviewed the status of various programmes and issues relating to all the departments of the ministry.
Issues relating to the forthcoming Budget were also discussed at the meetings.
At the meetings, attended by Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla, Revenue Secretary PV Bhide, Expenditure Secretary Sushma Nath, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Virmani, Disinvestment Secretary Rahul Khullar and the CBDT and CBEC Chairmen, Mukherjee highlighted the need to bring the economy back on growth track, sources said.
There is obviously fiscal concerns, which might limit the options before the government to come out with another stimulus package for the industry, facing slackening demand, the sources said.
Presenting the budget for the year 2009-10 would be the first task before Mukherjee, who was also made Finance Minister late last year after P Chidambaram moved to Home Ministry.
Mukherjee presented the interim Budget in February and gave third stimulus package to the industry, reeling under the impact of financial crisis by cutting excise duty by another 2 two per cent, service tax by 2 per cent among other measures.
He is believed to have got a briefing on the preparatory work being done by the ministry for the Budget from Chawla and Virmani on Sunday.
The government is required to get the budget passed by Parliament by July 31, the date when the vote-on-account sought in the interim budget expires.
Home Minister P Chidambaram had earlier said the government would try to get the budget passed by the end of July.
However, in case the budget fails to get the approval of Parliament by that date, the government would have to seek another vote-on-account to meet necessary expenditure.