Economic Survey highlights UPA mess: Will Jaitley follow its advice?

The Economic Survey 2013-14, the first one to be presented by the Modi government today (9 June), marks itself out from earlier ones on two fronts:

one, it is the first recent survey that has been prepared without a resident Chief Economic Advisor in the finance ministry. Last year's survey was prepared by Raghuram Rajan, now Reserve Bank Governor. The absence of a CEA has not in any way diminished either the descriptions or the prescriptions suggested by the survey's ghost authors on how to fix the economy.

Second, it appears that large chunks of the survey reflect the views and beliefs of key members of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), a former member of which is currently the Principal Economic Advisor, Ila Patnaik. While NIPFP works closely with all finance ministers, one cannot rule out the possibility that significant comments and approaches in this survey were intellectually outsourced to NIPFP economists such as Ajay Shah.

The language of the survey, which surely has been vetted by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, reflects these influences. In a few hours from now, when Jaitley presents his first budget (at 11 am on 10 July), we will know if he has taken any of the advice seriously or not.


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