Economy in able hands of prime minister: Chidambaram (Lead)

December 1st, 2008 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) Outgoing Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Monday said he was “disinclined” to take up his new assignment as home minister but maintained that the reins of the Indian economy would be in able hands, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh kept the portfolio to himself.As he prepared to move to the adjacent office of home minister in the Byzantine corridors of North Block, Chidambaram also said he had to give in to party’s command, adding India’s economic growth would be satisfactory with inflation moderating further.

“I will be less than honest if I don’t say I was disinclined,” the 63-year-old lawyer-politician from Tamil Nadu told reporters, in what was his last press conference as finance minister - a post he held since May 2004.

“But the final call is taken by party leader - in my case Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh),” said the harvard-educated lawyer. “One learns to take whatever duty is given to you.”

Chidambaram said India will witness a slowdown this fiscal because of the global meltdown but added that the economy was nowhere near recession. He said the projection of 7-8 percent growth was also quite satisfactory in the present circumstances.

“After four years of reasonably satisfactory growth, I was looking forward to an uneventful year. But it turned out to be the most eventful of my ministerial career.”

He said after an average growth of nine percent in his four years as finance minister, the first four of the subsequent months had witnessed an unprecedented global economic crisis, and the next four were even more eventful with recession in several economies.

“But inflation will moderate and the economic growth will be satisfactory,” he said, giving his take on the Indian economy, while also maintaining that Manmohan Singh was the best person to handle the finance portfolio.

“Our prime minister was a governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission and a finance minister,” Chidambaram said.

“We need the coordination of these three (offices) and he has held all three positions earlier,” he said, referring to Manmohan Singh’s previous stints at the helm of Mint Road in Mumbai and the Yojana Bhavan and South Block in the national capital.

“There is unfinished work in this ministry too,” Chidambaram said, but added: “The whole country is extremely reassured as the prime minister decided to keep the portfolio - at least for now.”

Shivraj Patil had Sunday resigned as home minister following the 60-hour terror nightmare in Mumbai.

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