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New Delhi: The finance ministry has finally cancelled a planned meeting on Saturday between the finance minister and his team with investors, economists, and journalists citing the minister’s busy schedule in the run-up to the budget.

If the meeting itself, invitations for which were sent out on Wednesday, was unusual—not only because it had never been done before, but also because of the message it sent out—happenings on Thursday were even more so.

First, after news of the meeting broke on Thursday, bond yields rose by 10 basis points on fears that the meeting was being called to explain a coming fiscal slippage.

Soon after, the finance ministry issued a clarification with a spokesperson messaging that the meeting “is relating to Economic Survey and not concerning Union Budget".

The chief economic advisor, the spokesperson added, “may brief the participants about economic situation both global and domestic; and may also brief about the economic analysis of micro and macro economic situation made in survey and the likely state of economy in coming year and the steps to deal with the same".

The Economic Survey is being presented on Friday.

Finally, the ministry decided to cancel the meeting.

Photo: PTI
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Photo: PTI

Earlier, news of the meeting on Saturday, two days before the Union budget, between finance minister Arun Jaitley, junior finance minister Jayant Sinha, and other officers in the finance ministry with economists, investors, and some journalists caused a stir.

By Saturday, the Union budget would have been finalized (for some time), barring some last-minute changes.

The surmise was that the ministry had called for a last-minute meeting to get a grip on some quick-fix measures that could be introduced (or dropped) so that the market reacted positively to the budget, or to prepare people for some bad news in the budget without really telling them what the bad news was.

The speculation, the rise in bond yields and complaints from investment banks not represented at the meeting (only a few banks, apart from economists, and journalists were invited) may have prompted the clarification. And with that too not proving enough, the ministry might have decided to call the whole thing off.

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