Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday picked the brains of leading economists in the first meeting of the newly-constituted NITI Ayog, where they asked the government to work towards high growth, predictable tax regime, fiscal prudence and rapid infrastructure development.
Setting the tone for the discussion, Modi emphasised on the need for cooperative federalism and added that he favoured healthy competition for development amongst states.
India, he said, must development fast, taking advantage of the current global environment to meet the aspirations of the people.
He was apparently referring to the near six-year low in international oil prices and the slow down in other major economies that can provide opportunities to India.
Modi asked for the views of the economists on the state of economy, ways to perk up revenue mobilisation, expenditure rationalisation and suggestions to put India back on high growth path.
He said an objective of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog was to establish a dynamic institutional mechanism where "eminent individuals outside the government system" could contribute to policy making.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the meeting was organised with "some very eminent economists with regard to the state of economy and steps required to boost investment, growth and even specific suggestions with regard to the Union Budget".
Niti Aayog is a "think tank" also and today's meeting was in that context, Jaitley added.
An official release said the economists emphasised on the need for the government to work towards high growth, predictable tax regime, fiscal prudence and rapid infrastructure development.
A large number of other suggestions where also made on various sectors of the economy. The discussions today will be used in formulation of the BJP government's first full-fledged budget to be presented on February 28.
Vijay Kelkar, Nitin Desai, Bimal Jalan, Rajiv Lall, R Vaidyanathan, Subir Gokarn, Parthasarathi Shome, P Balakrishnan, Rajiv Kumar, Ashok Gulati, Mukesh Butani and G N Bajpai were among the economists who shared their views.
A large number of other suggestions were also made on various sectors of the economy, including on agricultural sector and poverty alleviation during the meeting that lasted for about three hours, the release said.
NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya along with two full time members Bibek Debroy and V K Saraswat were also present in the meeting.
The Prime Minister spoke of the government's recent initiatives, including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, direct cash transfer of LPG subsidy, and Swachh Bharat.
Elaborating, Jaitley said the suggestions were also in relation to the financing of infrastructure, how to attract investment and boost domestic savings. State of agricultural sector was particularly discussed, he said.
Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar made a presentation on the scope of the new body. The first full meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog has been convened by Prime Minister on February 8.
The Governing Council of NITI Aayog comprises state chief ministers and Lieutenant Governors of all union territories.
The first full meeting of the Council is expected to provide further suggestions on setting efficient processes and mechanism of interactions between Centre and states and also between NITI and stakeholders.