Bibek Debroy to wear two hats, also made Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council.

As the Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council, Bibek Debroy has a direct point of contact with the PM Narendra Modi. On the other hand, in the NITI Aayog, he is subordinate to its Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar and CEO Amitabh Kant.

 

Pronab Sen, the former Chief Statistician of India said, ““What I find a little disturbing is that Bibek Debroy remains a member of the NITI Aayog while being the Chairman of the EAC… it could put him in a difficult position,”

There are now broadly three sets of economic advisers in the government. Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and his team work with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley; NITI Aayog gives inputs to the government and the EAC will report directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.

During UPA-II (2009-14) Saumitra Chaudhuri was a member of both the then Planning Commission and the then PM-EAC. However, he was subordinate to Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the former body and to C Rangarajan, in the latter.

In case of Debroy, he is Chairman of Prime Minister Modi’s EAC but only a member in the NITI Aayog. There is a mismatch in hierarchy that needs to be clarified, lest it lead to confusion in policymaking.

GDP growth has slowed to 5.7% while the unemployment rate has increased, according to Mahesh Vyas of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. Exports are tepid and private investments and consumer demand is low. Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax have slowed down the economy in short-run.

With inflation on an upward trajectory, it is unlikely that the RBI will oblige with interest rate cuts. The government has done well to revive the EAC and will be banking on expert advice to help revive the economy.

-Sumukh (Swawla)