Coming soon: A new-look, simpler, slimmer Economic Survey

Economic survey will revert to the format used in the year 2008-09, discarding recent changes.

The Economic Survey, to be tabled before the Budget 2014-15, will be ?as important? and on the lines of the 1991-92 Survey when the economic condition was alarming and the country was on the brink of collapse, a senior finance ministry official said.

It is also expected to become a more readable and much shorter document rather than just an academic exercise with at least a 30 per cent cut in its length.

?The central theme of the Survey will be decided in consultation with the finance minister but we want it to have a friendlier interface? said a senior official involved in the exercise.

But pointing out that the situation, in fact, is ?perhaps worse with a decade-low growth rate, shrinking industrial production and crawling job creation?, another official said the document is being structured in a way so as to arm the new government with some strong suggestions to arrest the decline in growth and stave off the crisis situation.

?We are aiming for radical and long-term changes to bring about structural changes in the economy. This survey will essentially focus on only three things ? what is the current economic situation, what have been the government initiatives so far and what all the government should do to resolve the current challenges,? the official said adding it will be much thinner than previous surveys.

Changes brought in by former chief economic advisors Kaushik Basu and Raghuram Rajan will be done away with. The survey will be restored to the format used in 2008-09. Basu had changed the cover of the survey by depicting a graph, and also changed the Chapter 2 of the survey from ?Challenges, response and medium-term prospects? to ?Micro foundations of inclusive growth.?

Before 1991-92, the survey used to elaborate on the ?Economic Situation? but after the 1991 crisis, it added the chapter called ?Public Finance?.

The official said that the survey would be much smaller than last year?s, which had around 300 pages with around 150 for the appendix.

?Singapore?s economic survey is very thin and reader friendly. We want to work out something similar, which common people can also read and understand,? the official said.

Accordingly, the economic division in the finance ministry has been asked to cut each chapter of the Survey by one third, avoid verbose language and go for short and simple charts and graphs. ?However, the data appendix at the end of the Survey will be continued,? said another official.

After presentations on pending issues with various departments, the finance ministry is expected to start consultations on the Economic Survey and Budget over the next few days with the new finance minister Arun Jaitley on the government?s plans for both the exercises.

But with no chief economic adviser in place at present, the preparation of the survey is being supervised by finance secretary Arvind Mayaram and principal economic adviser Ila Patnaik. The latter is also expected to author the second chapter of the Survey that traditionally reflects the ideas of the chief economic adviser.

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First published on: 02-06-2014 at 08:52 IST