India will achieve 9 percent growth: PM

February 15th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) The Indian economy will continue to grow at a fast clip and attain 9 percent growth this fiscal, even as the government will ensure that negative impact of a global slowdown is moderated, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here Friday. “I do not see any reason why we can’t sustain 9-percent growth even in the face of a global slowdown,” the prime minister told the 80th annual session of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

“There are global concerns of a slowdown. We need to be aware of these concerns. We will take steps to limit the impact on us. The finance and commerce ministers are seized of the matter,” he added.

Manmohan Singh said keeping inflation under check was high on the agenda for his government even if it came in the way accelerating growth, since a much larger section of the society was directly impacted by price rise.

“I know some of you are not happy about our emphasis on inflation control. There have been some impatient editorials about the sacrifice of growth at the altar of inflation control,” he said.

“It hurts the poor more than the rich. Therefore, it is essential we ensure that the poor are not adversely affected by high inflation, particularly basic items of consumption. This is a matter of social priority and of their survival.”

According to the prime minister domestic factors like high investment rate that has touched 36 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and savings rate of 35 percent had been driving India’s robust growth.

“There is an underlying dynamism in our economy,” he said. “There will be ups and downs. There will be leads and lags. There will be sectoral and regional imbalances. These should be addressed,” he said.

“But let us not miss the wood for the trees.”

The prime minister also expressed concern about the affordability of health care and the quality of public health in the country, and said while the central government will ensure adequate funds for various programmes, the states needed to do more.

“We need reform of our health system, especially our public hospitals,” he said, adding: “We are looking at new models of affordable health insurance and other related strategies.”

The prime minister said while there were reports on the poor state of India’s infrastructure, the facts spoke of a different story entirely.

The civil aviation sector was on the right track, railways had seen a remarkable turnaround, the national highways had been expanded, electricity generation was improving and urban infrastructure was getting renewed attention.

The prime minister said the sustainability of economic performance rests on the health of the agriculture sector and reiterated the government’s commitment to resolve the problem of credit availability for the farmers.

“We cannot have a situation where 80 percent of the farm sector is outside the formal financial system and suffers from excessive indebtedness.”

Manmohan Singh also gave away the Ficci Awards for 2006-07 in six categories to Bharat Biotech International, Steel Authority of India, Grasim, Zenith Computer, ITC and Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science.

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