‘Inflation will come down in few months’

May 21st, 2008 - 9:16 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Saying that inflation was a “short-term concern” and “will come down in a few months”, Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia Wednesday said a 9 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for the next five years was attainable. “Over five years, 9 percent GDP growth target is not unreasonable. Over eight percent growth is expected in the current fiscal. India is moving towards higher growth rate against all constraints,” Ahluwalia said at an interactive session on ‘India Inc.-2020′ organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).

Describing inflation, which soared to 7.83 percent for the week ended May 3, as a short-term concern but legitimate concern, Ahluwalia said the prices rise would be moderated in a few months.

“Inflation is a short-term worry. Given a certain amount of patience, inflation will come down in few months. Short-term measures will proceed in a formal manner,” Ahluwalia said.

In reply to a question, Montek said that he was very much in agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that inflation would moderate after Sept 15 if the monsoon were normal.

“Yes, I am in agreement with what prime minister has said on inflation,” he said.

At the end of his two-day visit to Bhutan, Prime Minister Singh May 17 had told reporters at Bagdogra, West Bengal, that there would be moderation in inflation in the coming few weeks if this year’s monsoons were normal, adding that the situation would be better after Sep 15.

Montek said that there was need to concentrate on agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and skill development to further accelerate the growth of economy, but cautioned that rapid growth had to be inclusive.

“Is prosperity restricted to a small group or inclusive remains an important issue,” said Montek.

Since 80 percent Indians still depend upon agriculture, he said there was a need of 4 percent growth in agriculture, which could be achieved without any major technological breakthrough.

“With available technology, better seeds, credit policy, marketing support, we can enhance agriculture productivity by 80 to 90 percent,” the Planning Commission functional head said.

“Similarly, in the field of higher education, it is feasible to increase the gross enrolment ratio to 21 percent from 11 percent. By 2020, we cannot afford not have our universities in top 200 of the world,” he said.

He also called for active private-public participation in skill development, expanding affordable health facilities to the people in general, water and energy conservation.

He referred to the government’s decision to set up the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to cater to the needs of skilled personnel of the private sector in different fields.

A cabinet meeting May 15 approved Rs. 10 billion for NSDC, which would subsequently be enhanced to Rs. 150 billion.

“Time is running out. The task of skill development must be taken seriously,” Montek said.

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