Next five year plan to aim at double-digit growth: Ashwani Kumar (Interview)

April 19th, 2011 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) India’s 12th Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2017-18) will focus on infrastructure and aim at double-digit growth with the approach paper set to get a final shape in six months, Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar has said.

“Infrastructure deficit in our country is costing us two percentage points in terms of our gross domestic product (GDP),” Kumar told IANS, ahead of the meeting of the full Planning Commission Thursday, to be presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“We would like to achieve double-digit growth over the next five year plan. That’s our aim. That is our vision. Even our prime minister has said a growth rate of 10 percent is well within India’s reach. I hope and pray we will succeed,” the minister added.

India registered 8-percent growth in 2009-10 and is expected to have registered a 8.6-percent economic expansion during the previous year ended March 31, as per the estimates of the Central Statistical Organisation.

According to Ashwani Kumar, Thursday’s meeting will discuss the finer points of the Five Year Plan and the prime minister, who is also the chairman of the Planning Commission, was expected to give a broad vision on the programmes to be pursued during the period.

The prime minister has estimated that the country will need as much as $1 trillion worth of investment in infrastructure during the next plan and has called for major rehaul of the policies and procedures to be able to attract such quantum of funds.

“Yes, on infrastructure, but for telecommunications, we were not able to achieve some of the targets set for the current plan period. That is why there we are giving that much emphasis to this crucial area,” the minister said.

“We would need private-public partnership on a large scale to ensure substantial private sector investment in infrastructure,” said Ashwani Kumar, who is also also the minister of state for parliamentary affairs and science and technology.

He said all policies were being finalised in consultation with stakeholders, including the non-government organisations and the civil sopciety, to ensure transparent and democratic process.

Ashwani Kumar also told IANS that the Planning Commission was aware of the finance ministry’s opposition to a proposal to hire 20 experts from outside as there were already 60 such advisors.

“We are aware of their views. No final decision has been taken. We will duly consider the matter before taking a decision.”

The minister also spoke about the existing subsidy regime and the need to curtail such spending so that more funds are available for development. “But subsidies are also an important tool for state intervention to mitigate the burden on poor,” he said.

“Yet we also need to be realistic. Subsidies should be within the parameters of fiscal prudence.”

Ashwani Kumar also said with India having the world’s largest young population, the government was focusing on skills development to ensure better employability of its youth, to be able to reap the demographic dividend.

“In addition, we will focus on monitoring the progress of our flagship programmes to address any deficiencies in implementation.”

(Prashand Sood can be reached at prashant.s@ians.in)

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