Confident of high growth, pushing reforms, strong Lokpal: PM (Roundup)

August 20th, 2011 - 6:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) Exuding confidence India will register higher growth of 9 percent in the next five years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said reforms will be pushed and “difficulties” resolved with “give and take” over issues like the Lokpal bill.

Looking cheerful and confident, despite the political storm brewing around him, after chairing an extended meeting of the full Planning Commission, the prime minister said both second generation economic reforms and strong Lokpal will be pursued, asking people to appreciate the legislative process involved.

“Considering the uncertainties in global environment, as also inflationary pressures at home, it would be prudent to have a growth target which would ensure the achievement of the objective of the target of sustained, inclusive growth,” the prime minister said.

“Taking all these factors into account, we will be working on a growth rate of 9 percent per annum, but we will also keep open the possibility of raising the growth rate if the situation so improves — domestic and international situation — to 9.2 percent.”

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) had risen at 8.5 percent last fiscal, despite global financial crises and high commodity inflation, to emerge among the fastest-growing economies in the world, an achievement that has been lauded worldwide.

The prime minister was speaking to a select group of journalists after the plan panel meeting at his official 7 Race Course Road residence, which started at 10.45 a.m. in the morning and was to end at 12.40 p.m., but continued for an hour more.

Called the architect of first generation reforms, which he initiated as finance minister in 1991, Manmohan Singh said the next stage of economic liberalisation will also fall in place, with parties with different ideologies, joining hands in India’s interests.

The prime minister said the while second-generation reforms were being pursued they will require a wide consensus. At the same time, he hoped such a consensus will eventually emerge, as it did when the programme was first launched in 1991.

“Second generation reforms are essential. But they are lot more difficult. They require broad-based national consensus,” he said, adding: “Effort has to be to create a climate of opinion where all political parties unite in national interest.”

The prime minister neither looked uncomfortable nor did he sound dismissive when asked how he sought to pursue the Lokpal bill, also recommended in the approach paper of the next plan, given the demands by a section of the civil society to consider its version of the proposed legislation.

“There are difficulties. There is logic of the legislative process. Certain stages have to be crossed. I hope people will appreciate that there is dynamics of the legislative process, which takes time sometimes,” the prime ministster said.

“We are all in favour of Lokpal, which is strong which is effective and therefore there is a lot of scope of give and take,” he said, alluding that the aim was a consultative process to achieve the desired results.

“Our hope is that we can list the cooperation of all thinking segments of Indian public opinion to ensure that the end product is strong and effective Lokpal that all sections of our community want today,” he said.

“We must all work together to push forward the case for strong and effective Lokpal and whatever obstacles come in the way we remove them and that has to be commitment which all segments of the political community must honour and work towards it.”

In a chapter on governance, the approach paper of the 12th Five Year Plan says “measures should be taken to set up new institutions like the Lokpal and Lokayukta, which should investigate complaints of corruption and file cases against those against whom a prima facie case is made out.”

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at arvind.p@ians.in)

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