M A I N   N E W S

UPA meeting on Budget today
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
Tomorrow’s meeting of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is to be a “Budget- specific” exercise which will discuss the broad contours of the new government’s first rail and general budgets.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram, who is not a member of the UPA coordination committee, has been specially invited to brief the coalition partners about the basic thrust of the budgetary proposals. The minister may take the coalition partners into confidence on how he proposes to mobilise resources for the commitments made by the UPA. He will also seek inputs from the UPA partners for the Budget.

The meeting of the UPA, the highest policy of the ruling 14-party coalition, will be presided over by its chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

UPA sources said the meeting was earlier slated for June 25 but it was rescheduled for tomorrow so as to give sufficient time to the government to incorporate the inputs received from the UPA members. The proposal to create a new system of autonomous petroleum price fixation may also figure in tomorrow’s discussions.

Since the UPA government has now been in power for a month, the UPA meeting is also likely to discuss how the new government proposes to implement the ruling alliance’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP). It could fix a time-frame for the implementation of the CMP in the order of priority.

“This government must work on the basis of the CMP. The meeting will be an occasion for us to see how best the programme was being implemented through the Budget without putting too much burden on the common man,” said a Left party leader.

Besides the Budget and economic issues, political matters could also come up in the course of the meeting. The controversy generated by Foreign Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh’s statement on sending Indian troops to Iraq, may figure in the meeting. This will give an opportunity for the government to explain its position and set the record straight. Mr Natwar Singh has already denied that the government had agreed to the US request to send troops to Iraq.

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