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PM forms Economic Advisory Council, Debroy will be chief

PM forms Economic Advisory Council, Debroy will be chief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday constituted a fivemember Economic Advisory Council (EAC) headed by Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy, at a time when concerns are being raised over the declining growth in India.

The EAC also includes NITI Aayog’s Principal Advisor Ratan Watal as its member secretary. Economist Surjit Bhalla, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy director Rathin Roy and Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research professor Ashima Goyal will be part time members of the Council.

“Addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister.”

“This could be either suo-motu or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else. The five-member council consists of economists of high repute and eminence,” according to an official statement.

In the previous UPA government when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, EAC was headed by former RBI Governor C Rangarajan. But, it was made defunct since then. The terms of reference of the EAC will be to analyse any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the Prime Minister and advising him thereon. It will also address issues of macroeconomic importance and present its views to the PM. “This could be either suo-motu or on reference from the PM or anyone else.”

The terms of reference also includes attending to any other task as may be desired by the Prime Minister from time-to-time.

Last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held a brainstorming meeting with senior officials from various ministries to find ways to boost growth and create jobs.The meeting, which lasted about two hours, was also attended by Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and secretaries of various Finance Ministry departments.

Since 2016, GDP growth has fallen for six consecutive quarters, dipping to three-year low of 5.7 per cent in the April-June quarter with India losing the fastest growing economy tag to China for the second straight quarter. Both wholesale and retail inflation rose in August. Besides the falling GDP growth rate, exports are facing strong headwinds and industrial growth is the lowest in five years. The current account deficit — the difference between inflow and outflow of foreign exchange — has risen to 2.4 per cent of GDP in April June. The government is also expected to soon address structural problems facing the economy as well as transient issues with the implementation of GST. It was expected that GST will boost growth by up to 2 percentage points, but technical glitches created a scare of revenues falling short of expectations.

The Mint, New Delhi, 26th September 2017

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