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Government to trim expenses, check fiscal in its 100-day agenda

Friday, 13 June 2014 - 6:45am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Reviving growth through labour-intensive manufacturing sector and cutting down on expenditure to rein in the fiscal deficit seems to be the mantra of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to revive the economy. At least that is what the first hundred day's agenda of the finance ministry and the commerce ministry seems to suggest so. Stimulating exports, re-energising the special economic zones, and manufacturing push are the other key top priorities of the commerce ministry, even as North Block is keen on reining inflation, boost growth and contain fiscal deficit.

Commerce minister Nirmala Seetharaman has held a series of meetings with the senior officials from the commerce ministry in the last fortnight. And her key message, according to the sources in the ministry, is to give a fillip to manufacturing, stimulate exports and re-energise the special economic zones.

A senior official told dna, "The department of industrial policy and promotion is working on a labour intensive strategy for giving a boost to the manufacturing sector. There have also been several rounds of discussion on the draft Foreign Trade Policy. The idea is to see how exports can be given a fillip."

At the behest of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Seetharaman had a meeting with the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council head C Rangarajan on various ways to revive the economy. Seetharaman has also written to all the state chief ministers to ensure ease of doing business in their states.

A Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) delegation, which met Seetharaman Thursday, has pitched for creating mass manufacturing units in sectors such as textiles on a public-private partnership mode and mapping these units alongside the planned Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. CII also urged the government to take a re-look at the land acquisition process.

For the finance ministry, the immediate priority is tackling inflation. In his interaction with the secretaries of the various ministries last week, prime minister Narendra Modi directed finance secretary Arvind Mayaram to consider taming inflation as his highest priority. Ministry officials claim that a blueprint for inflation is being prepared and the ministry will soon revert back to the PMO.

The other key priority for the north block is reforming the expenditure of the government (subsidies) to handle the fiscal deficit of the government. The idea is to bring it to the level of 2.5% of the GDP as envisaged in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management Act.

A senior finance ministry official told dna, "The first and the foremost thing that is likely to be looked at is the Food security. It poses a huge challenge fiscally. For the time being the successful implementation of the existing public distribution system taken up as a case study. A proposal on curbing the petroleum and fertiliser subsidy is also on cards."

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