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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in conversation, on the second day of BJP's national executive meeting in Delhi on Saturday. PTI Photo (PTI1_7_2017_000034B)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in conversation  involved in the budget confer and deliberate various proposals and budget outlays.

NEW DELHI:Budget meetings, many of them lasting over three hours, have been held for a number of sessions through December and January. Top officials of the PMO and finance ministry involved in the budget confer and deliberate various proposals and budget outlays.

HIGHLIGHTS:
PM’s office taking keen interest in crafting of this year’s union budget .

PMO, finance ministry official in meetings for as long as three hours.
PM wants concerns over jobs, farm distress, investment addressed: Sources.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his office taking a keen interest in the crafting of the Union Budget for this year, the usual bustle has spilled over from North Block, which houses the Finance Ministry, to the Prime Minister’s office at his residence.

Budget meetings, many of them lasting over three hours, have been held for a number of sessions through December and January. Top officials of the PMO and finance ministry involved in the budget confer and deliberate various proposals and budget outlays.

For finance ministry officials the proactive role of the PMO doesn’t come as a surprise. Prime ministers have always been consulted and finance ministers have discussed various suggestions but this has usually been confined to a limited number of meetings.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, has had a more hands on approach right from the beginning.

It was PM Modi who had, for instance, nudged his cabinet colleagues to come up with out-of-the box ideas ahead of his government’s full-fledged budget in 2015. Half-way through his five-year-term, he had last year called the budget document a “key link” between the work done by his government over the previous two-and-a-half years and the future.

Sources said PM Modi had been sitting with officials to address various concerns especially job opportunities, farm distress and pushing private investment. Next week, he is also expected to take stock of the economy at the meeting with top economists including members of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

PM Modi had demonstrated a keen interest in the budget-making exercise right from the beginning of his tenure in 2014 but the budget-related meetings at the PMO this time had become more frequent, and went on for longer.

Top government officials closely associated in the budget exercise told NDTV that these meetings helped them in getting better clarity.

These interactions would probably help to PM Modi too, one of them suggested.

Later this month, PM Modi is expected to head to Davos in the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum meeting that will have a larger-than-usual presence of chief executives of Indian companies. PM Modi, who is likely to address the special plenary of the biggest congregation of global business leaders, would be the first Indian prime minister in 20 years. HD Deve Gowda was the last Indian PM to be at the Davos Summit in 1997.

Union Budget On Feb 1,2018 Next Parliament Session Starts Later This Month.

The budget session of parliament will begin on January 29 and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Union Budget on February 1, parliamentary affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said on Friday  as the winter session drew to a close.

The long budget session is held in two parts with a recess. The first part of the session will be till February 9, and parliament will reconvene on March 5 for the second part, which will go on till April 6, the minister said.

The winter session was delayed and shorter than usual, convened on December 15 after the Gujarat elections amid much criticism from opposition parties. The winter session had 13 sittings spread over a period of 22 days. Both the Houses were adjourned sine die on Friday.

The productivity of the Lok Sabha was 91.58 per cent while that of Rajya Sabha was 56.29 per cent in the winter session, Ananth Kumar said. “In a way this session was landmark… 13 bills were passed in the Lok Sabha and nine in the Rajya Sabha during the 13 working days of the Winter Session,” the parliamentary affairs minister told reporters.

17 bills were introduced and 12 bills were passed by both the Houses in the winter session.

During the winter session which ended today, the government was hoping to get parliament to clear the Muslim Women Protection of Rights in Marriage Bill 2017 that seeks to make the instant “triple talaq” a criminal offence and proposes up to three years in jail as punishment for a Muslim man who divorces his wife by saying “talaq” thrice. But the bill has been pushed to the budget session as it did not come up in the Rajya Sabha today due to the deadlock between the government and opposition.

COMMENTSThe government is adamant it will not cede to the opposition and send the bill to a panel. It accused the Congress of double standards and insisted that the bill be debated in the Rajya Sabha so that it can “expose the Congress’ hypocrisy” for opposing it in the upper house after supporting it in the Lok Sabha, where it sailed through last week since the government has a big majority.

With inputs from PTI.

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