The government is readying a set of bold initiatives that will likely be announced in the Budget for 2020-21 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi devoting a considerable amount of time in personally overseeing the policy matrix aimed at engineering a quick turnaround in the Indian economy.
Top sources in the government said that over the last few days the Prime Minister has been brainstorming over a range of issues affecting the economy and thrash out appropriate policy interventions.
He has held as many as 12 meetings so far with groups of industrialists and experts. Each group has had between 10-12 people each and each meeting has been for three hours and more, in what probably is the most extensive ever consultations that Modi has held on matters related to the Union Budget and the economy in the past five years.
Sources said that these consultations have become more intense and focussed over the last six to seven days, with many of these meetings with ministries running into 10-11 hours — starting at 9 am and most days go on till 10 pm—demonstrating the government’s intent to walk the talk on nurse the economy back into sound health.
Each ministry has been asked to prepare a five-year vision and the Prime Minister is personally reviewing each plan, going through detailed presentations, sources said.
Sources said that this is partly the reason he has not been visible much publicly in the last few days, preferring to keep his focus on the budget that could be a reset moment of sorts for the economy.
“He has been working 12-13 hours at a stretch on these Council of Ministers meetings, from 9 am to 10 pm with barely a short break for lunch. This includes working full days on weekends,” sources said.
“The Prime Minister has been working with every ministry on a five year plan—with the concerned minister and all secretaries in attendance”.
This is the most involved he has been in all these years in the budget exercise.
The Prime Minister has met more than 120 people so far, and sources said that he has largely been in “listening mode” during these meetings. The picture released earlier this week with top industrialists was from one such meeting.
“The PM has held many meetings with the industry and has listened to them for hours on end. You can expect a very balanced Budget with a slew of announcements”.Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the budget for 2020-21 on February 1 amid heightened expectations that she will announce a slew of steps for the economy that is estimated to grow at 5 percent in 2019-20, the slowest in 11 years.