Pranab to meet Cong leaders on budget tomorrow

New Delhi, Feb 14 (PTI) Ahead of the budget sessionbeginning next week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee willhold consultations with senior party leaders tomorrow at theAICC headquarters here.

With Assembly elections scheduled in five statesincluding West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamilnadu and Puducherythis year, rising prices particularly of food items andvegetables, has been a worrying factor for the party.

Congress leaders are expected to come up with theirwish lists during their meeting with Mukherjee at the AICCheadquarters, which is expected to be attended by all partygeneral secretaries as well as other senior leaders.

The Finance Minister, who has interacted with severalinterest groups including the industry so far, will be seekingsuggestions from Congress leaders on how to make the Budget tobe presented on Feb 28, an instrument to take forward theparty''s policies and programmes.

Since the Congress came to power at the Centre via theUPA mode in 2004, Finance Ministers have been interacting withparty leaders ahead of the Budget.

Experts say inflation, Current Account Deficit,pressure for lowering down the import duty, providing levelplaying field to the domestic industries and increasing thegovernment revenue are some of the problems being faced by thegovernment ahead of the Budgetary exercise.

However, there has been some good news for thegovernment on the front of inflation this month.

Driven by declining prices of sugar and wheat, theoverall inflation eased marginally to 8.23 per cent in Januaryeven as the prices of vegetables and fruits continued toremain firm.

Encouraged by the 0.20 percentage point fall in inflationover 8.43 per cent in December, Finance Minister PranabMukherjee has said it would come down to 7 per cent by the endof the fiscal.

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