Union Budget 2018 won't be populist: NITI Aayog VC

Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, Rajiv Kumar, said, "Several participants said that we must shift our focus from increasing agricultural production".

Rajiv Kumar, vice-chairman of federal policy think tank NITI Aayog, which organized the discussion, said at a briefing that many experts suggested measures for raising farm productivity, reducing cost of farming and improving market access for farmers.

They also suggested that the proposed bank recapitalisation should be accompanied with banking sector reforms.

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During the session, the 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.

Kumar added that NITI Aayog will soon come out with a new way of monitoring employment, based on various high-frequency data.

"I am hoping NITI Aayog will monitor high frequency data on employment on a regular basis and actually create new data set which is not available as of now".

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The meeting is significant as it comes ahead of the Union Budget amid concerns that unemployment among educated people in the country might be as high as 20 per cent, and could decide the government's priorities in the Budget. Another big idea discussed during the meeting was to adopt stronger export-driven growth strategy and increasing income of farmers.

The meeting, according to a senior government official, will be attended by vice chairman and members of Niti Aayog, members of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), economists and sectoral experts. "And we need better government capability to target the sectors which are needed to expand exports", he said.

Earlier last week, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the first advance estimate that indicated a low 6.5 per cent growth figure mainly due to slowed performance of manufacturing and agriculture.

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