Over the coming few weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to review each department and ministry’s work to evaluate their performance. The review could culminate in seeking inputs from them to turn around the economy, after the country witnessed its worst slowdown in 26 quarters in the second quarter of 2019-20.
Starting Friday, Modi and his top officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will be briefed by various central ministries and departments on their plans as well as agenda for the next five years. They will also apprise the PMO of the work they have done so far in realising the agenda of government’s second term in office.
According to sources, the PMO will appraise the departments on their performance over the last six months, and will seek solutions to revive growth. The commerce and industry ministry, among others, will present its report card to the PMO on Friday.
A part of the performance review started last month
during the Council of Ministers meeting, with a few key ministries such as agriculture and aviation making their presentations.
The fresh set of review meetings are scheduled to take place on January 3 and 4, 7 and 8, and 13 and 14, depending upon the time taken by each ministry, Business Standard has learnt from government sources.
Officials said there is some talk that the exercise could form the basis for some sort of rejig of portfolios of ministers, but this could not be separately confirmed. The stock-taking exercise could also throw up valuable inputs for the upcoming Union Budget.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell to 4.5 per cent during July-September. The finance ministry had said the slowdown has bottomed out and that it expects a gradual recovery from the October-December quarter. Others disagree.
The Reserve Bank of India now sees GDP growth for the first financial year under the second Modi government at 5 per cent, compared to the 6.1 per cent it projected earlier. While the finance ministry hasn’t put out any revised estimates, officials say it is in line with the RBI.
If GDP growth for the year does come in at around 5 per cent, it will be the slowest growth rate since 2008-09.
On the issue of reviving growth and demand across sectors, officials say some of the topics likely to be discussed at these meetings are the need to boost capital expenditure for infrastructure ministries and revenue expenditure for rural and agricultural departments.
The PMO has debated whether to maintain fiscal discipline or provide stimulus to a flagging economy by sharply increasing expenditure, at meetings with economic advisors and finance ministry bureaucrats. “Fiscal discipline has always been a priority for the political leadership. But the situation this year is extraordinary in some ways. There have been discussions, but no decision has been taken,” said an official.