In a unanimous decision the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, which has BJP members in majority and is chaired by the ruling party’s former Minister Jayant Sinha, has agreed to deliberate on the state of economy as the first subject to be taken up at its next meeting on October 17.
At the beginning of the meeting, a list of 13 subjects for review for this year was circulated. None of the subjects listed delved on the state of economy. According to sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy was the first to raise a red flag. He is reported to have said that given the current economic downturn, the committee could ill afford to discuss any other issues. Mr. Roy was backed by Congress MP Manish Tewari, the sources said, adding that none of the BJP members on the committee objected to either Mr. Roy or Mr. Tewari’s comments.
“There was unanimity that the state of the economy is very worrying and has to be the first subject to be looked at,” a committee member, who did not wish to be identified, told The Hindu . “Finance Ministry officials and independent experts will be called in to depose. Subsequently, a questionnaire will be circulated based on those briefings and then we will look at demands for grants,” the member added.
Many members also demanded that there needs to be a comprehensive review of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This would cover its structure, functioning, its mandate and its role. The review would also bring into focus the controversial move of the central bank to transfer ₹1.76 lakh crore of its reserve funds to the union government. “We have, for now, scheduled the meeting three weeks later,” another opposition member of the panel said. “The RBI governor who has deposed in front of the committee in the past will be called,” this member added.
The list of 13 subjects circulated at the beginning of the meeting by Mr. Sinha had steered clear of any controversial issues. The topics included “efficacy of overall taxation framework”, “financing the innovation ecosystem”, and “performance and regulation of capital markets”.
The BJP-led government decided to break with Parliamentary tradition and kept the post of the chair of the Finance Committee with the ruling party. In the last Lok Sabha, the committee headed by Congress leader Veerapa Moily had given the government some embarrassing moments including in its review of demonetisation.