India can log 8 pct economic growth rate, says P Chidambaram at World Economic Forum

Written by PTI | Davos | Updated: Jan 24 2014, 03:33am hrs
P Chidambaram'If we avoid some of the mistakes that we have made and if we are decisive.' (AP)
Asserting that reform measures and fast-tracking of the decision making process have yielded results, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said India would certainly return to 8 per cent economic growth rate if past mistakes are not repeated.

"In the last year and a half, we decided that we need to do more and be more decisive...the results are there to see. Our economy has stabilised," P Chidambaram said here.

"Last year I said we will grow by five per cent this year, 6 per cent during the next year and steadily we will move back to 8 per cent growth," he said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting while addressing a session on BRICS countries, P Chidambaram said: "If we avoid some of the mistakes that we have made and if we are decisive, I have no doubt that in three years we will be back to 8 per cent growth".

The Minister said that income inequality and middle class stagnation are big risks in every country.

On people coming out of poverty, Chidambaram said: "India has done well on this front, while China has also done well.

"It is one of the reasons why food inflation is high in India. Still we want to do many more things to further lower the income inequality...we would like to tax the rich a little more, but since we want to encourage the entrepreneurs to do business, we are going slow on that," Chidambaram said.

Defending the role of the government in economies, Chidambaram said: "When US and European banks were in crisis, the government had to pitch in. There is a role for the state to play. If you look at Indian banking industry, we have got state-run banks, private banks, foreign banks and now we are licensing a few more banks.

"You cannot wish away the role of the state as that is a very important role," he said. Asked to draw a comparison between India and South Africa which is also going to witness elections, Chidambaram said, "South Africa is in a happy position...its dominant political party being in a position to come back to power".

"Similar was the case in India for Congress party till 30 years ago, but today it is difficult...probably no party is in a position to come to power with absolute majority," the Minister said.

"I can't say which party is in a better position, but if you want I can tell you my preference," Chidambaram said, sending the audience into peals of laughter.

Asked about BRICS' preparedness to safeguard human rights of people, Chidambaram said that human rights must be respected and any act of violation must be tackled with.

At the same time, denial of drinking water, sanitation, healthcare and food is also human rights violation, he said, while adding that these rights must be protected as well and steps should be taken in this regard.

Asserting that India was very much focussed on protecting human rights of it people, he said that poverty denies the people their human rights and it must be tackled well.

South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said income gap remains a problem in his country as well.

About growth rate, he said that the slower growth seen by South Africa in recent times was not its making. It was a result of problems in global financial centres of the world, he added.

Gordhan also expressed confidence that the country would return to its high-growth path as there were no risks to the economy at the moment. He also added that there were no doubts about upcoming elections as the ruling party was founded by Nelson Mandela.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that his country was working to improve business climate and the results would start appearing in some time.

In the session on whether BRICS bloc of countries were facing a midlife crisis, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said his nation needs to increase investments that involve innovation, something which China has begun doing.

"I'm sure that China will continue to grow at 7-9 per cent, but it may not go back to 12-13 per cent. India can also grow at six per cent which is still a very good level in terms of global economic growth rates," he said.

Mantega said Brazil has a huge consumer market but the country is lacking credit to activate this model. "That's why the government is encouraging investments," he added.

Liu Mingkang, Distinguished Fellow from Hong Kong-based Fung Global Institute, said China's concern right now is about its falling rate of growth.

"From more than 10 per cent a year ago to 9 per cent and now about 7 per cent. This coming year we may be slowing a bit more. This is a fact. But people in China have reached a conclusion that there are projects that are not economically viable and the income streams need to be widened.