PM to take stock of economy, rising prices at Plan panel meet
New Delhi: The full Planning Commission, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will discuss on September 1 the state of economy that is under pressure from drought and rising prices of food items.
Besides chalking out the strategy to combat the impact of drought, which has already hit 252 out of about 600 districts, which may pull down the economic growth to about 6 percent, the meeting will also review the implementation of the integrated energy policy.
In addition to Plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and its regular members, the meeting will also be attended by over a dozen ministers including Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram, Murli Deora and Prime Minister`s economic adviser C Rangarajan.
Hit hard by the drought, the economy, which is still reeling under the impact of the global financial meltdown, is estimated to grow by a little over 6 percent, down from 6.7 percent in the previous fiscal.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said drought could reduce `Kharif` (summer crop) output by up to 20 percent this year.
Admitting the poor monsoon will affect prices, Singh told reporters on Saturday, "no one has control over drought. It`s a severe drought. If you look at numbers, it`s in many parts (and naturally) it affects prices."
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its recent report has warned that deficient monsoon and the possible adverse effects on agriculture output may not only put pressure on food prices but also raise the demand for more subsidies and relief measures.
The Integrated Energy Policy (IEP), which was approved by the cabinet last December, has made about 110 suggestions, of which action has been taken on only 29.
The IEP had also recommended more liberalised regime for setting up captive and group captive power generation units.
The proposal faced opposition from the state electricity boards which feared that the move would leave them with small and agriculture consumers.
The other important issue likely to come up during the meeting pertains to providing power subsidy to low income households.
The Planning Commission has been suggesting that subsidy should be given in cash to below poverty line (BPL) families.
The IEP has recommended the nothing should be charged for 30 units of electricity consumed by low income household per month. The policy also suggests introduction of debit cards for giving such subsidy.
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