Several important measures must be adopted in order to turn the economic growth rate to double-digits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while chairing the crucial fourth meeting of NITI Aayog with as many as 23 chief ministers on Sunday.
While delivering the opening remarks at the fourth meeting of the NITI Aayog Governing Council, the PM said that the world expects India to become a USD 5 trillion economy soon and with a healthy growth rate of 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of the 2017-18 financial year, more measures must be taken to achieve the double digits.
Besides this, the conference deliberated on several other issues:
ROLES OF CHIEF MINISTERS
The PM lauded the CMs for playing a key role in policy formulation, through sub-groups and committees on various issues such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Digital Transactions and Skill Development. The recommendations of these sub-groups have been incorporated by various ministries of the Union government, he said.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO STATES
The PM assured the CMs of flood-affected areas, of all possible central assistance to deal with the situation. He said India has no shortage of capabilities, capacities and resources and in the current financial year, states would be allocated over Rs 11 lakh crore from the Centre, an increase of about Rs 6 lakh crore from the last year of the previous government. These steps, the PM said, are essential for achieving the vision of New India by 2020.
Amid demands by some states to review the 15th Finance Commission’s terms of reference, Modi requested the chief ministers present to pitch in “fresh ideas” for incentivising outcome based allocations and expenditure correction.
HOLDING SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS
The PM also called for widespread “debate” on conducting simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies on grounds that doing so would result in financial servings. “The Prime Minister called for widespread debate and consultations on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, keeping in view various aspects such as the resulting financial savings and consequent better utilisation of resources,” an official release said.
Last year, NITI Aayog had suggested synchronised, two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly polls from 2024 so as to ensure minimum ‘campaign-mode’ disruption to governance.
Modi concluded his address to the CMs by assuring that suggestions made during the meeting would be “seriously considered” in the course of decision-making by the Centre. He also directed NITI Aayog to follow up with the states on the actionable points made by them within three months.
DEMANDS OF BIHAR AND ANDHRA PRADESH
While briefing reporters on the meeting, NITI Aayog Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the PM and Centre will fulfil all promises made at the time of bifurcation of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh in “letter and spirit”.
Under the Ayushman Bharat programme, Modi said 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres are being constructed while 10 crore families are being given health cover worth Rs 5 lakh every year.
A comprehensive approach will be adopted for education under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
Modi also said that schemes such as Mudra Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana and Stand Up India are useful in greater financial inclusion and that it is important to tackle economic imbalances on priority.
The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan has emerged as a new model for implementation of schemes, the PM said, adding that it has been extended to 45,000 villages in the aspirational districts. Modi said all aspects and parameters of human development must be addressed and improved upon in the 115 aspirational districts which will be identified by NITI Aayog. He added that states can define their own parameters to identify 20 per cent of the total blocks in the state as aspirational blocks.
According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi called upon CMs of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, to work together to make recommendations on a coordinated policy approach on agriculture and MNREGA.
ON ENVIRONMENT ISSUES
Speaking on the issue of environment, raised by chief ministers, he urged all states to use LED bulbs in their government buildings, official residences and street lights.
While referring to the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, he said the cleanliness drive was being discussed around the world as 7.70 crore toilets have been constructed in the last four years. He called upon the CMs to work towards 100 per cent sanitation coverage by October 2 next year, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The statement also said that mining blocks, which have been successfully auctioned, should start production at the earliest and urged upon the states to take steps in this regard. Modi said District Mineral Foundations will prove to be beneficial to the poor and the tribals in a big way.
CMs WHO SKIPPED MEET