NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda was unveiled by Finance Minister Sh. Arun Jaitley, along with Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Sh. Dharmendra Pradhan and NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr. Arvind Panagariya. The document charts an ambitious, transformational yet achievable Action Agenda for the government during 2017-18 to 2019-20, that constitute the last three years of the Fourteenth Finance Commission. The Agenda is a part of a longer-term Fifteen-year Vision and Seven-year Strategy outlined in a separate document. The Action Agenda proposes a path to achieve all-round development of India and its people.
A brief outline of the subjects covered in the document is provided below:
Part I: Medium-Term Revenue and Expenditure Framework
Part I presents expenditure proposals for three years based on revenue forecasts. This exercise has been limited to the Central government. The Action Agenda proposes linking Central government expenditures to future priorities. It suggests shifting the composition of expenditures by allocating a larger proportion of additional revenues that become available over time to high-priority sectors. Under the proposed agenda, the share of non-developmental revenue expenditure in total expenditure would decline from 47% in 2015-16 to 41% in 2019-20. At the same time, the share of capital expenditure, which is more likely to promote development, would rise significantly. The proposals imply substantial expansion in expenditures by 2019-20 on education, health, agriculture, rural development, defence, railways, roads and other categories of capital expenditure.
Part II: Economic Transformations in Major Sectors
This part includes two chapters, one dealing with agriculture, which is the backbone of the rural economy, and the other focuses on industry and services in which the key issue is the creation of well-paid jobs.
Part III: Regional Development
Part III focus on urban, rural and regional development, respectively. Urbanization is an integral part of modernization. Often, urban centres such as Mumbai and Shanghai are home to the organised sector activities. But even when these activities locate in rural areas, they quickly turn the latter urban. Accordingly, the Action Agenda spells out how we can facilitate urbanization in the country. Key challenges faced by the urban sector include affordable housing, infrastructure development, public transport, promotion of Swachh Bharat, reform of urban land markets and waste management.
Part IV: Growth Enablers
Part IV discusses how to enhance the contribution of a number of growth enablers. These include infrastructure, digital connectivity, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), energy, science and technology and creation of an effective innovation ecosystem. Infrastructure development is one of the most crucial elements of economic transformation. The development of transport and connectivity infrastructure, including the roadways, railways, shipping & ports, in-land waterways and civil aviation. The challenges faced in this sector include physical capacity constraints, severe modal imbalances and a lack of holistic planning, maintenance and safety.
Part V: Government
Part V considers issues related to the government such as governance, taxation, competition and regulation. It discusses rebalancing the government’s role in favour of public services and away from manufacturing. It also recommends reforms in the civil service, and electoral process. It suggests actions to eliminate corruption and black money, which have emerged as important policy priorities. Finally, the chapter offers suggestions for strengthening federalism and bringing states to the forefront of reform agenda.
Part VI: Social Sectors
Part VI of the Action Agenda turns to education, skill development, health and issues facing specific groups such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children, differently abled and senior citizens. Education, skill development and health contribute to the creation of a productive workforce. Addressing the needs of all members of society is critical for inclusive growth of the country.
Part VII: Sustainability
The last part of the Action Agenda, Part VII, turns to environmental sustainability. It focus to address the high levels of air pollution in the cities, black carbon pollution indoors from the use of biomass fuels in cooking, massive volumes of solid waste in urban areas and deforestation. On the one hand, it emphasized to strengthen and streamline regulatory structures governing sustainability of the environment while on the other we must remove hurdles that adversely impact growth without protecting the environment.
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