Ahead of the swearing in of the new government, cabinet secretary Ajit Seth on Wednesday held a series of meetings with senior bureaucrats to discuss issues ranging from pending policy matters to the economic situation.
Earlier, Seth had asked ministry secretaries to prepare a presentation for the new government describing how things could have been different if “you were given a free hand”.
The cabinet secretary had “formed 7-8 groups of ministries, asking them to prepare very brief presentations,” sources told The Indian Express.
The revenue department is understood to have highlighted the pending tax reform bills including Direct Taxes Code and Goods and Services Tax (GST). “It also conveyed that the Centre needs to be a little more assertive for getting GST passed,” the source added.
The PowerPoint presentation made by the commerce and industry ministry said that the “new Land Acquisition Act made it difficult for investors to operate and it could have been made better structured. Also, inter-ministerial coordination collapsed due to which many things could not be done”.
There have been several instances of a turf war between the finance and commerce and industry ministries regarding free trade agreements, foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in pharma and exemptions enjoyed by the special economic zones.
The commerce and industry ministry also made a case for further liberalising the FDI regime in the presentation, the official said.
Meanwhile, in a separate meeting on essential commodities, Seth also discussed price rise in the face of a looming drought and the Narendra Modi government’s focus on curbing prices.
The meeting, which was attended by secretaries in the ministry of finance, commerce, food and consumer affairs also reviewed the availability of food stocks in the country and the possible need to import any of these in case of a drought.
“This is a regular meeting which happens periodically on prices. It is a regular thing, nothing new. Every one month it happens. We just gave our inputs,” said finance secretary Arvind Mayaram after the meeting on food stocks. The ministries of consumer affairs and agriculture provided the inputs on current food stocks and expected farm sector output during the current fiscal.