Pre-budget meetings with Chidambaram begin today

Finance Minister P Chidambaram will start pre-Budget consultations with various stakeholders from today.

The first meeting is with agriculturalists. It will be followed by a series of interactions with sectoral experts, industry captains and economists to get their feedback and inputs for possible incorporation in Budget 2013-14.

Chidambaram will present the Budget 2013-14 amid the economic slowdown. The current financial year 2012-13 has been difficult for the country's economy, with growth slipping to 5.4 percent in the first half this fiscal.

Chidambaram will present the Budget 2013-14 amid the economic slowdown. AFP

The country's current account deficit (CAD) rose to a record high of 5.4 per cent of GDP or $22.3 billion, in the July-September quarter of 2012-13 and fiscal deficit in the April-November period stood at Rs 4.13 lakh crore -- 80.4 percent of the Budget Estimates (BE).

In its Mid-Year Economic Analysis presented in Parliament last month, the government had lowered the growth projection for 2012-13 to 5.7-5.9 per cent from 7.6 percent estimated earlier.

The projected growth is the lowest in a decade. In 2002-03, the economy had expanded by a mere 4 percent. The economic growth rate during 2011-12 had slipped to a nine-year low of 6.5 percent because of slowing demand both globally and locally.

A wide range of issues like policy initiatives to fight sluggishness in growth, slump in industrial output and rising fiscal deficit are likely to come up for discussion in the Finance Minister's consultations with stakeholders. Moreover, impending tax reforms like Direct Taxes Code (DTC) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) may also figure in the discussions.

PTI