PM’s Economic Advisory Council acknowledges slowdown.

PM’s Economic Advisory Council acknowledges slowdown.

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Johnson Cherian.
Chairman of the recently reconstituted Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC), Bibek Debroy on Wednesday acknowledged the economic slowdown and emphasised that accelerating growth and employment over the next six months would be the top priority of the Council.
“There is consensus among us about the various reasons that have contributed to the slowdown,” Mr. Debroy said after the first meeting of the Council on Wednesday.
“However, we will not be sharing what these reasons are, other than to the Prime Minister,” said Mr. Debroy, who is also a member of the NITI Aayog.
The five-member Council was unanimous that the government shouldn’t stray away from the path of fiscal consolidation, thus ruling out a fiscal stimulus to reverse the downturn in the economy. Mr. Debroy said the committee had reached a consensus on the fiscal consolidation policy being followed by the government.
Initial focus on 10 themes
The Council would initially focus on 10 themes. “…The committee has identified major priorities for accelerating economic growth over the next six months,” Council member Surjit Bhalla said.
The priority areas include economic growth, employment and job creation, informal sector and integration, fiscal framework, monetary policy, public expenditure, institutions of economic governance, agriculture and animal husbandry, patterns of consumption and production, and the social sector.
“Another key issue was need for effective tracking of key economic parameters, through possible mechanisms for instituting an Economy Track Monitor, using lead indicators and triggers for action, based on informed assessment and analysis,” the PMEAC said.
‘No good data on jobs’
Mr. Debroy stressed that there was no good data on jobs, employment and unemployment. The only good way to obtain satisfactory jobs data was through household surveys. The previous National Sample Survey was released in 2011 and the next one would release data only in 2018.
“Whatever we do will be in consultation with the relevant body, but it is always possible to have a complementary view that supplements what the Reserve Bank of India is doing,” Mr. Debroy said.
The Council, which includes Niti Aayog adviser and former Finance Secretary Ratan Watal, and economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal, would convene again in November.

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