Economic stimulus to top Manmohan action plan

May 17th, 2009 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Murali Krishnan
New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had promised a 100-day action plan for his government if returned to power, is expected to give emphasis to the United Progressive Alliance’s unfinished agenda, especially in the infrastructure and development sectors, and announce a fresh stimulus package to pull the economy out of its present slowdown.

According to senior officials, he wants to hit the ground running and will be directing ministries and departments, once government formation is over, to prepare detailed action plans themselves.

“For the sake of continuity and not disrupting work in crucial ministries, there is every possibility that ministers who were there in the earlier dispensation will be given the same berths,” a key prime ministerial aide told IANS.

The much expected stimulus package, the fourth since the slowdown set in October last year, is to take the economy to a stage where 9-10 percent growth is possible and tackle job losses.

“As the recovery process is being led by cement, textiles and construction industries, these sectors would also create employment opportunities. The problem of job losses is confined to the textile and diamond industries and attention will be focussed there,” said a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council who did not want to identified as he was not authorised to speak for the government.

Also realising that the stunning mandate it has received was in large measure because of its welfare policies, especially in rural development, agriculture and health sectors, the Congress led UPA will turn its eye to some of the manifesto promises.

However, officials point out that this might not happen immediately as the government’s first priority will be to present a budget within 45 days which they point out will be a delicate balancing act as fiscal deficit has already shot up to 6.2 percent of the GDP in the last fiscal.

“But a blueprint for the UPA’s manifesto will also be ready with the 100-day action plan,” an official told IANS.

Among the various promises that the Congress party will need to deliver on is a second farm loan relief on interest to all farmers who have repaid loans on schedule. The central government had raised the total amount of farm loan waiver to Rs.716.8 billion from Rs.600 billion which was announced in the budget of February 2008.

Besides, the party’s manifesto has delved in detail about a National Food Security Act to ensure 25 kg of wheat or rice to every family below the poverty line.

On the security front, having described the Mumbai terror strike as the tipping point to revamp national security, Manmohan Singh will continue to put in place critical strategies and strengthen intelligence systems to thwart further attacks.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram had set himself a target to ensure that proper equipment, weaponry and communication systems are procured for police and paramilitary forces to meet the challenges of new age terror.

Given an unstable neighbourhood and the possibility of the situation spiralling, his government would urgently modernise both security and intelligence mechanisms to meet this challenge, officials said.

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