PM meets secretaries to outline his policy priorities

PM meets secretaries to outline his policy priorities

PM meets secretaries to outline his policy priorities

In another first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met the secretaries of all government departments to outline his agenda of governance and his expectations from them.

The meeting, which was originally scheduled on Tuesday and postponed by a day because of the sudden demise of Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, was apparently modelled on a practice followed by some chief ministers who directly interact with the bureaucracy.

This is the first time a Prime Minister has interacted directly with secretaries without the presence of ministers.

Modi, who this week asked his ministers to prepare a 100-day agenda for their departments, is believed to have given a glimpse of his policy priorities in today's meeting.

Sources said the meeting was more of an interaction where sectoral priorities were listed.

In all, 77 top bureaucrats, including Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram, Home Secretary Anil Goswami, Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, were called for the meeting.

Sources said 16 groups were formed by clubbing related ministries. All finance ministry departments were grouped together, while secretaries of energy-related departments — power, coal, oil, mines and atomic energy — were put together.

Agriculture and related departments were clubbed under one head, while the infrastructure group comprised of railways, telecom, roads, civil aviation, shipping and posts.

Previously, the secretaries had been asked to prepare a 10-slide presentation for the Prime Minister listing successes and failures of the past regime as well as points of action for the next five years.

Sources, however, said individual presentations will take place later and today's meeting was more of an interaction.

Notes of finance ministry officials for the meeting included inflation, fiscal consolidation, controlling the current account deficit, clarity on tax administration and disinvestment in non-core sectors like steel and cement.

Liberalising the FDI policy in defence, e-commerce retail, railways and construction development and hurdles in land acquisition and cumbersome project clearances topped the agenda of Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher.

Updates on the monsoon and a new insurance scheme to protect farmers from crop failure figured on Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna's notes, while the consumer affairs department was concerned about rising onion prices.

While the Oil Ministry went with a list of pending decisions, including an increase in natural gas prices which was due on April 1, the Power Ministry cited round-the-clock power supply and easing of fuel shortages as its top focus.

Divestment of stake in PSUs such as SAIL and opening of closed mines were the focus areas for the steel and mines ministry.