Amid increasing concern over the economic slowdown, the reconstituted Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy will hold its first meeting on Wednesday to decide on a framework to boost growth.
Sources said, “The meeting will discuss the framework or agenda for the advisory panel as terms of reference for the committee are very broad. The action points or recommendations that need to be given to the government to revive economy in the short term and the measures government needs to take in order to boost growth by 2019.”
The other members of the Council are economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal, all of whom are part-time members, with Ratan Watal, principal adviser, NITI Aayog, as the member-secretary. After coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government dismantled the PMEAC, which was earlier headed by former Reserve Bank of India Governor C Rangarajan.
With two-thirds of the NDA’s term already over, the government is in virtual election mode. The Himachal and Gujarat elections are later this year, other state elections are due in 2018 followed by the national elections in 2019, so there are strong political and economic compulsions.
Experts believe that it is important for the government to clearly distinguish the role of NITI Aayog, Economic Advisory Council and the Chief Economic Advisor.
The GDP growth has slowed to 5.7 per cent while the unemployment rate has increased. With virtually nil private investment and consumer demand very low, decisions like demonetisation and the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) have slowed down the economy. Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley said his ministry would soon announce measures to revive economic growth.