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PM lays roadmap for economy in Niti Aayog meet

In a meeting with top economists, government officials and Niti Aayog members, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reiterated his views on pathway to economic development through “skill, scale and scope” and laying emphasis on improving farm incomes, job creation, rationalisation of taxes to widen the tax base, investment in tourism and other such policies.

Arvind Panagariya, vice chairman of Niti Aayog, who briefed the media after the meeting, said the PM emphasised on deriving the benefits of “demographic dividends” for economic development.

He said the discussion at the meeting was focused on how to maintain the current rate of growth and ways to improve. Panagariya said tax cut was extensively deliberated upon by the experts.

“Tax simplification figured quite a lot…on the direct taxation, both corporate and personal income tax on simplifying, reducing exemptions, bringing down tax rate and aligning tax system to make India competitive with international destination,” he said.

According to him, Modi, who attended the session titled ‘Economic Policy – The Road Ahead’, called for doubling of farm income by 2022 and more investment in tourism.

Quoting Modi, Panagariya said the policymakers should look at how “prudently” the revenues collected from taxes are utilised as much as they look at how to raise it.

“The tax evasion issue was addressed and the PM told everyone that it is not that the taxpayer doesn’t want to pay taxes. He wants to pay taxes but we also want the proceeds to be used well. When the revenues are not well used the taxpayer evades,” said the Niti Aayog chief.

Modi also asked government departments and ministries to not work in silos and function in more coordinated manner. He also said the infrastructure building has to be accelerated and discussed job creation at length to extract the advantage of wages growing at a moderated pace compared to China.

Among the suggestions given by participants were simplification and rationalisation of taxes by lowering them and reducing exemptions, inverted duty structure for manufacturing, encourage digital payments for farmers, shift to high value agri-products, boost farm output, pricing freedom for farmers, improve teacher and education quality, promote data-driven approach to policy-making and others.