Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was scheduled to be one of the key speakers at the India-specific sessions at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, but he will now not be travelling to the Swiss town. A finance ministry source said the change in plan was because the FM was needed in New Delhi to devote time to the Budget.
Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley was to be one of the six Union ministers scheduled to attend the WEF. The FM was earlier scheduled to be in Davos on January 24 to take part in the key “country strategy dialogue on India”. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan were to join Jaitley in this session.
Sources confirmed the change in the FM’s itinerary barely 24-hours after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had held a press conference on Friday to announce that Jaitley would be travelling to Davos.
PM Modi will be in Davos from January 22 to 23. He is slated to address the inaugural plenary session and is also scheduled to meet 60 of the world’s topmost business leaders and chief executive officers at a dinner on January 22.
Modi is the first Indian PM since H D Deve Gowda in 1997 to attend the WEF. Jaitley will present the Union Budget, the fifth and final one of the current the government, on February 1.
Announcing the itinerary of the PM and other ministers at Davos, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, Vijay Gokhale and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary Ramesh Abhishek had said on Friday that six Union ministers, including Jaitley, were scheduled to attend several of the sessions.
Abhishek said Prabhu will attend nine sessions across three days, while Pradhan will attend five sessions. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal will attend 10 sessions, Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh three sessions and Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar will be part of two sessions.
Abhishek said the large number of sessions being addressed by ministers reflected the importance that WEF has given to India this year.The Indian delegation will organise round table discussion on financial inclusion, promoting digital payments, clean energy, modernisation of Indian Railways and skill development, which will be attended by union ministers.