Railways conscious of social, economic responsibilities: Piyush Goyal
Railways conscious of social, economic responsibilities: Piyush Goyal

As the contours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's interim budget for 2019-20 have been firmly set, Coal and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who stands in for ailing Arun Jaitley as Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister, will be meeting public sector bank chiefs to review the proposed policy tweaks.

The meeting early next week follows the briefings he received from government secretaries in the finance ministry.

This is Goyal's second stint at the helm of the North Block in which he will spearhead the presentation of the interim budget 2019-20 on February 1 and steer it through the discussions.

Jaitley is recovering from a kidney replacement surgery in the US.

In the meeting with PSB chiefs, postponed to January 28 from January 22, Goyal will discuss banking targets for 2019-20, priority sector lending, recovery action on non-performing assets, and bankruptcy proceedings defaulting companies, according to a media report.

Goyal, who will lead the government's post-budget work, will reply to debates in both houses of parliament and get the Finance Bill passed.

Goyal assumed charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministry for the second time in eight months on January 23. Arun Jaitley, who has been designated 'minister without portfolio, will be away for at least two weeks.

The budget documents' printing began on January 21 after the traditional halwa ceremony, a report in the Business Standard says. The report cited officials as saying that Goyal's focus would be more on delivering the budget speech.

The interim budget will mostly be a narration of the Modi government's economic and social sector achievements. Though Goyal can make minor changes, the budget team has already decided all major announcements, revised estimates for 2018-19, projections for 2019-20 and beyond, and other numbers.

Congress has criticised the government on the basis of reports that the Modi government was planning to present a "regular budget" ahead of the general election likely by May. The opposition party has said such a move was against all norms and the established parliamentary practices.

Congress leader Anand Sharma questioned the government's intent in doing as such and termed the move a "desperate attempt" to make "grandiose announcements and hoodwink people" in contravention of the Constitution, the report said.

In a public appearance via teleconferencing from New York in an event in Mumbai, Jaitley said that while the government would work "within the parameters of the conventions that exist", the contents of the interim budget will be decided in the larger interests of the economy.