Prime minister Narendra Modi has set the priority for the finance secretary Arvind Mayaram. In a meeting with the secretaries of the various ministries on Wednesday, gesturing at Mayaram, Modi said that inflation should be topmost priority of the finance ministry.
The two other diktats that he issued to the top babus was to have 'zero tolerance' on corruption and to pull up their socks to work six days a week. Modi also wants the secretaries to ensure cosmetic appeal of their departments.
According to a secretary who attended Modi's briefing on Wednesday, department heads were asked to ensure cleanliness in their offices as he wants to offer "congenial environment" to work for the employees.
"As soon as the meeting began, Modi said looking at Mayaram that inflation is the first and foremost thing that the ministry needed to handle. Modi has asked Mayaram to include inflation in the first hundred days' agenda and work out a plan to handle," an official told dna.
Finance ministry sources said a workable plan to address the supply-side issues to handle inflation will be submitted to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) soon.
Wholesale Price Index based Inflation has gone up to 5.20%, compared with 4.68% in February. Food inflation too is soaring over 9.10%. To make the matters worse, the meteorological department has predicted a below average rainfall in the monsoon season, which may send food prices skyrocketing. Modi also advised the key secretaries to have 'zero tolerance' on matters related to corruption and asked them to work six days a week, given the voluminous amount of work, especially in the infrastructure ministries, which are sitting on a pile of pending projects.
Talking about Modi's point of view on clean office, information and broadcasting secretary Bimal Julka told dna, "He (PM) stressed on cleanliness. He said he wants to give employees congenial environment to work. Instead of files and paper work, he said more and more work should be done on the internet."
Another secretary who too attended the meeting said the PM also shared the anecdote of his experience at the PMO.
"I think he found stack of files in different rooms in PMO. He said it became difficult for him to enter there. So he said why can't we make it more systematic and organised," said the official.
As many as 80 secretaries were present at the meeting. It wasn't a monologue, secretaries were first asked to share their view on governance first and then PM Modi spoke to them in a free flowing speech.
Three senior bureaucrats dna spoke to said the PM was very polite, encouraged everybody to open their hearts. He even told them to facilitate their work, he was ready to change laws. And asked them to give him list of laws that hamper their work. They said they found the new PM accommodative and workman-like with whom they will feel comfortable to work with.