In a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, economists and experts suggested the government to focus on jobs, adopt an exports-driven growth strategy and work on doubling the farmers income.
During the session on ‘Economic Policy — The Road Ahead’, organised by Niti Aayog, participants shared their views on various economic themes such as the macro-economy, agriculture and rural development, employment, health and education, manufacturing and exports, urban development, infrastructure and connectivity, the government said in a statement.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the experts’ “ideas” covered “the entire spectrum on economy”. Several people suggested that the government must move away from singular focus on agriculture production to raising farmers income by boosting productivity, reducing costs, giving greater market access to farmers and creating farm clusters within districts that provide both forward and backward linkage.
The government has committed to double farmers’ income by 2022. “There was unanimous support for working towards doubling the farmers income,” Kumar said, adding that the many experts suggested the government to focus on job creation. “Jobs — somebody said very clearly that it’s time now to target jobs (creation) and only jobs,” he said. More than 40 economists and experts participated in deliberations on Thursday.
He said improving economic growth was important to achieve jobs creation, though the recent high frequency data indicate that there was a pickup in employment generation. With the global economic growth picking up pace, many economists suggested the government to adopt an export-driven growth strategy that will boost domestic economy and lead to job creation, he said. The record on the employment front is encouraging when seen through the high frequency data than what is being released by the Labour Bureau, Kumar said, without elaborating.
“We will attempt to make the best out of your informative suggestions & views which have been presented in new ways through this initiative,” Niti Aayog quoted the Prime Minister as saying in a tweet. Kumar said he cannot share further details on specific suggestions made by the participants since many of these could have a bearing on the upcoming Union Budget that will be presented on February 1. The line between what was suggested during the discussions and what could eventually come out in the Budget is “blurred”, Kumar said.
The meeting was attended by finance minister Arun Jaitley, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu and senior officers from the Central government, among others.