New Delhi, Feb 1 (ANI): Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said he is hopeful that growth rate will be around seven per cent plus while the head on inflation would be between six and seven per cent by March end.
Mukherjee, who was holding pre-Budget meeting with leading economists to solicit their suggestions on vital economic issues, said that the current year was a challenging year as the country had to face the problem of inflation, fiscal deficit and maintenance of sustainable and inclusive growth.
He further added that due to volatility of international crude prices, euro zone crisis and overall slowdown in the growth process in developed economies, the emerging economies including India had also to face adverse impact of global slowdown.
Participating in the discussion, the economists suggested that the primary task of this year's Budget should be to restore a sense of confidence among the investors-both domestic and international-in India's growth story. They said that Budget should be used as an instrument for restoring the confidence of the investors.
They asked the Finance Minister to make this year Budget a Policy Budget rather than only a statement of account.
They suggested that expenditure on populist measures be reduced and the leakages of funds in implementing them be curbed. In this regard they suggested decontrol of diesel, higher excise duty on diesel cars and use of cash transfer system to distribute subsidies directly to the beneficiaries among others.
Participants also advised the Finance Minister to grant clearance to mega infrastructure projects which are held up for long time especially those relating to power, mining and steel to send a positive signal to the corporate world.
The experts also laid emphasis on high expenditure on health and education sector. ome economists suggested giving infrastructure status to aviation sector and township housing among others.
Some members suggested extension of section 80(i) of Income Tax Act for at least another three years for attracting investment in the infrastructure sector.
Among the leading economists who attended today's meeting included Dr. Surjit Bhalla from OXUS Research and Invests., Nitin Desai, Dr. Rajiv Kumar, FICCI, Dr. Sudipto Mundle, NIPFP, Bharat Ramaswamy, ISI, Delhi, Ajit Ranade, Aditya Birla Group, Dr. M. Govind Rao, NIPFP, Prof. Rohini Somanathan, Delhi School of Economics and Prof. Amar Yumnam from School of Social Sciences, Manipur.
Minister of State for Revenue, S.S. Palanimanickam, Finance Secretary, R.S. Gujral, Advisor to Finance Minister, Omita Paul, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, R. Gopalan, Secretary, Expenditure, Sumit Bose, Secretary, Financial Services, D.K. Mittal, Secretary, Disinvestment Mohd. Haleem Khan, Chief Economic Advisor, Dr. Kaushik Basu and Additional Secretary (Budget), Shaktikanta Das also attended the meeting from the official side. (ANI)
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