DEA holds brainstorming session; Growth to be pivot: FM

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (UNI) In the first effort of its kind, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) went on an off-site retreat for a brainstorming session, where Finance Minister P Chidambaram told the officials that growth will remain the pivot of economic policy with emphasis on poverty eradication.

The venue of the retreat last weekend was Surajkund in adjoining Haryana, outside Delhi, reminiscent of the manner in which corporates conduct their affairs now a days.

Led by Finance Secretary D. Subbarao, 50 officers of the DEA of the rank of Deputy Secretary and above, spent an entire day and indeed a good part of the night, intensively brainstorming on their vision of the emerging role of the Department in the fast changing economic scenario.

Reflecting the theme of the Retreat--'Improving the Way We Work'--each Division made a presentation on the 'best practices' they were evolving and identified tasks where they would bring about a 'paradigm shift' in the quality of output.

The highlight of the event was a two-hour session with Mr Chidambaram, which was shorn of the hierarchical barriers that inhibit communication in the Government.

The Finance Minister said maintaining and accelerating economic growth should be central to all the work of DEA.

He, however, admitted that the Ministry of Finance did not have policy control of the entire economic agenda because of democratic structures and coalition politics, but officers must capitalise on that part of the agenda on which they did have control, such as for example, driving the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management targets. He enjoined upon them that all policies must have a pro-poor bias, but was quick to add that economic growth was the key to poverty reduction. There could not be any sustainable poverty reduction without economic growth.

The strength of the DEA, in the Finance Minister's view was a sense of pride that the officers had in working in this premier Department of the Government. Their high academic qualifications made them especially suited to give their best to their Department.

He advised them to improve their written communication, which needed to be precise and brief in content. He asked the officers to be well versed in the subjects they dealt with.

When asked about the changes he had observed in the civil service over the last 20 years, the Finance Minister said that while in the yesteryears, the civil service attracted the best talent in the country, now a lot of talented youngsters sought careers outside the Government, notably in the financial sector.

He also observed that the lifestyle of civil servants had become more ostentatious over the years which he felt was not a positive development.

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