THE TAMIL Nadu government on Monday named former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel laureate Esther Duflo as part of a five-member Economic Advisory Council to the Chief Minister.
The others in the panel are: former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, development economist Jean Dreze and former Union Finance Secretary S Narayan.
Announcing the decision in the Assembly, Governor Banwarilal Purohit said that based on the council’s recommendations, the “government will revitalise the state’s economy and ensure that benefits of economic growth reach all segments of society”. He said the government would bring out a white paper on the state’s fiscal health by July.
Listing the council’s “terms of reference”, a government order issued later in the day said it would provide guidance on economic and social policy; social justice and human development related issues; ensure equal opportunity for women and the well-being of under-privileged groups; make suggestions to boost economic growth, employment and productivity; advise on improving the state’s capacity to deliver better services.
The state is “in the midst of a serious economic crisis induced by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the order. “The fiscal situation of the government of Tamil Nadu is also precarious with persistent high revenue and fiscal deficits and a large overhang of debt. At the same time, expectations of the people are very high, that the government would deliver on faster economic growth, social justice and equity through new programmes, projects and enhanced service delivery,” it said.
While the new advisory council is likely to function as a superpower, above the existing planning board, State Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan told The Indian Express that it would not operate “in a conventional way”.
“First of all, these are not paid positions but honorary positions. Their functioning also will not be in a traditional way as many would expect… This is not for a one-time meeting to submit a report, but will be an ongoing process. A committee of experts who are ready to share their talent and knowledge for the benefit of Tamil Nadu. The operational part wouldn’t be in a conventional way, but they will be making recommendations on their own… Or they will also do it in response to queries and advice we seek. Essentially, the goal is not to make reports but to keep the system working efficiently with the best resources and inputs we can avail with their help whenever required,” said Rajan.