NEW DELHI: Unfazed by brouhaha over his crusade against black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quietly planning more surgical strikes against sectors dragging the economy down. Agriculture, infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, startups, education and health are on the reform radar. According to sources, Modi invited top bureaucrats on January 21 to provide a time-bound action plan for growth.
The final blue print was prepared on October 28, just 10 days before his televised address announcing demonetisation. He is seeking an overhul of the finance sector before the 2017-18 budget. The report is likely to be finalised by next week to be submitted to the PM. Land pooling to generate more farm income during demonetisation times, assessing the progress of flagship schemes, convergenvce of pro-poor schemes like enjoining MGNREGA with Jan Dhan-Aadhaar- Mobile (JAM) and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to tide over cash crunch in the rural banks and cooperative societies, a progressive tax system in the 2017-18 budget to make corporates accountable, developing foolproof mechanism for eliminating parking of funds under various schemes are priorities.
New evidence suggests that PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation plan was not an ad hoc move. As early as February, the Ministry of Personnel presented a paper citing a report by National e-Governance Division to the PM, highlighting around 3,000 different e-services to citizens.
The major challenge was enforcing cashless payment. The report suggested making electronic payment system operational by December 2016. It also proposed e-payment mobile apps to be made available to all by 2017. On November 23, he held a meeting with top officials, followed by internal ministry meetings between December 5 and 7 to prepare the push towards a cashless economy.
The government note accessed by The Sunday Standard indicates that the PM wants the success of NDA’s major flagship schemes to be assessed. The note signed by Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha said: “Groups of Secretaries to undertake a mid-term review of major policies/ programmes/schemes/ projects (including Flagship Schemes) of each Ministry/ Department in the group and suggest realignment of physical targets, financial outlays and implementation strategies up to the year 2018-19, wherever considered necessary.” Since demonetisation impacts cash-based rural economy, the plan is to deliver all government benefits to people through the JAM platform by end-2017 and all subsidies by 2018.
“All important services will be integrated to eBiz platform. There will be a real-time operating centre in each ministry by 2017 to track all the movements and schemes,” said a senior official. Modi wants at least 1,000 venture capital funds to be in the air by 2018. To make large corporations pay their fair share, expect a progressive tax system in the 2017-18 budget with recommendations for new tax and non-tax initiatives. The report will also review the role of PSUs, joint ventures and subsidiaries. Sources said Modi is keen to develop a mechanism to eliminate parking of funds in welfare schemes. The note seeks a review of all initiatives in the last two and half years.