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Pre-Budget meetings with Pranab to begin

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will start pre-Budget consultations with various stakeholders from tomorrow. The first meeting is with agriculturalists. It will be followed by a series of interactions with sectoral experts, industry captains and economists over the next three weeks to get their feedback and inputs for considering incorporation in Budget 2012-13.

Mukherjee is slated to meet trade union leaders on January 16. Social sector related groups will Mukherjee on January 17. A meeting with CEOs of banks and financial institutions is scheduled for January 19. Issues like bank recapitalisation, access to affordable financial services -- especially credit and insurance -- and interest rates are likely to be discussed in the meeting.

On January 20, Mukherjee will meet eminent economists to discuss the country's financial health and hammer out solutions for the difficult economic situation at present.

The current fiscal has been a difficult for the economy, with growth slipping to 6.9% in the second quarter, the lowest in nine quarters.

Besides, industrial output in October saw a sharp de-growth of 5.1%. Stock markets remain volatile driven by negative investor sentiment in India and abroad. The pre-Budget consultations will end with a meeting with the captains of industry on January 31.

A wide range of issues like policy initiatives to fight sluggishness in growth, slump in industrial output and rising fiscal deficit targets are likely to come up for discussion. Moreover, impending tax reforms like Direct Taxes Code and Goods and Services Tax may also figure in the discussions.

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