New Delhi: Rathin Roy, member of the prime minister’s economic advisory panel, has expressed hope that Union Budget 2018 will not be “populist" and will reflect the commitment of the government to improve quality of expenditure.

The government, Roy said, will come with yet another good budget, which is likely to be presented on 1 February. “I would not think any populism is permissible. I think the government will present a responsible budget, which will reflect its expenditure quality and commitments," said Roy. “I don’t think the government will use the budget to be populist. I am very confident that political authorities understand this."

Asked what would be the government’s reform agenda for the next 18 months, Roy said that the Narendra Modi government should focus on completing the reforms undertaken by it in over the last three years. “Many good reforms have been started, they will take time to complete, so rather than embarking on fresh set of reforms, the focus should be on completing reforms like the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, universalization and deepening of banking, etc.," said Roy, who is also director of economic think-tank National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power in May 2014 and the next general elections are due in 2019.

Roy also supports the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to hold key policy rates. “We have seen periods when interest rates came down. It is always good for interest rates to fall further, but we have to keep an eye on savings also," Roy said.

According to Roy, India has a long way to go in terms of reforms and policies to get to 8% GDP growth. “It is very clear that around 7% growth is achievable, and we are doing it. Inflation is low, current account deficit (CAD) is under control, 6.3% growth on an average is a high rate of growth. And so far the government has adhered to its fiscal responsibility. So if you look at fiscal policy, monetary policy, exchange rate policy, and growth, macroeconomic environment is fine," Roy said.

The PMEAC member believes there is a need to have a relook at how the Indian economy can grow by tapping the domestic demand, if the country has to address its jobs crisis. “For me, the agenda for the next 10 years is very clear. India must become able to produce what all Indians consume.... You cannot solve jobs problem by only focusing on job; you solve the jobs problem by involving those who have jobs and are producing goods," Roy said. PTI

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