Leading economists on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work towards high growth, predictable tax regime, fiscal prudence and rapid infrastructure development at the first meeting of newly constituted National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.
Setting the tone for the discussion, Modi emphasised on the need for cooperative federalism and added that he favoured healthy competition for development amongst states.
He also said that India must develop fast, taking advantage of the current global environment to meet the aspirations of the people. Modi was apparently referring to the near six-year low in the international oil prices and the slow down in other major economies that can provide opportunities to India.
Modi asked for the views of the economists on the state of economy, ways to perk up revenue mobilisation, expenditure rationalisation and suggestions to put India back on high growth path.
He said an objective of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog was to establish a dynamic institutional mechanism where "eminent individuals outside the government system" could contribute to policy making.
The Prime Minister spoke of the government's recent initiatives, including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, direct cash transfer of LPG subsidy, and Swachh Bharat and sought suggestions on improving these programmes.
Later Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the meeting was organised with "some very eminent economists with regard to the state of economy and steps required to boost investment, growth and even specific suggestions with regard to the Union Budget".
“Niti Aayog is a think tank and the meeting was in that context,” Jaitley said, adding that the suggestions made would be forwarded by the panel to the finance ministry shortly.
Government officials said that a number of other suggestions were made on various sectors of the economy such as agriculture, poverty eradication, infrastructure and manufacturing and the Prime Minister keenly took note of the suggestions.
Vijay Kelkar, Nitin Desai, Bimal Jalan, Rajiv Lall, R Vaidyanathan, Subir Gokarn, Parthasarathi Shome, P Balakrishnan, Rajiv Kumar, Ashok Gulati, Mukesh Butani and G N Bajpai were among the economists who shared their views.