PM Manmohan Singh vows to accelerate reforms, power-up Indian economy

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 1 2013, 04:10am hrs
Committing to accelerate the pace of reforms, PM Manmohan Singh today said the government will act boldly and decisively to revive the Indian economy and power growth to prove nay-sayers wrong.

"I do not underestimate the task before us. As the Twelfth Plan points out, our preferred scenario of strong inclusive growth at an average rate of 8 per cent per year will not come from business as usual policies. We have to act boldly and decisively" he said.

The Prime Minister was speaking here after releasing a book 'An Agenda for India's Growth: Essays in Honour of P Chidambaram'.

Observing that the last couple of years have been challenging, he said: "We must view this as a short term deceleration. Our government is determined to once again accelerate the pace of change. Once again, we will prove the naysayers and Cassandras of doom wrong."

Over the past decade, Singh said, when the economy had absorbed the full benefit of the reforms that began in 1991, it had grown at close to 7.5 per cent.

He added: "Our growth rate has slowed down to 5 per cent in 2012-13. But this should not make us feel disheartened and imagine that we have slipped back to our old growth rate."

He further said that the government has to deal with macro economic imbalances and major challenges in key sectors such as energy, water, and land.

Highlighting the achievements of the past five years, he said the growth has been much more inclusive.

"Poverty is falling faster even though there are disputes going on among the professional colleagues about the pace of change. Per capita consumption in real terms in rural areas has increased four times faster from 2004-05 than it did earlier. The erstwhile BIMARU states are doing much better," he added.

Parliamentary majority alone is not enough to pursue reforms as there are differences within parties, Singh said adding, "for reforms to be credible it is necessary that a wide cross section of society should understand the need for and accept, the policy changes that a government wishes to make".

Singh, who is credited with opening up the economy, said reforms do not happen just because there is a professional consensus.

"In a democracy, reform - be it of economic policy or of institutions - is essentially a political process. We have to build a sufficiently wide political consensus in favour of the policies we wish to adopt," the Prime Minister said.

Recently, the government has taken a slew of measures to bring in more foreign investment and intends to get key legislations, like the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislations passed by Parliament.

Singh said infrastructure is a key constraint with many large projects held up.

The Cabinet Committee on Investment which has set up gives a mechanism to overcome bureaucratic delays, he added.

He said the policy agenda for bringing back India's growth momentum has been outlined in detail in the 12th Plan.

"Our strategy must not only aim at faster growth but must also ensure that the growth processes are more inclusive," he said, adding that there are many policies that can help achieve this objective.

Passion for growth has to combine with compassion for poor: FM

In a veiled criticism of the Gujarat model of economic growth, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the Congress-led UPA government was for combining passion for growth with compassion for poor.

"I think reforms will have no meaning and reforms will not show the social, economic and political results that we desire unless we combine the passion for growth with compassion for poor," he said at a book release function at the Prime Minister's residence here.

The book is titled: 'An Agenda for India's Growth: Essays in Honour of P Chidambaram'.

Picking up from where he left in Ahmedabad, where he had invoked growth models advocated by eminent economists Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati to attack Narendra Modi government's performance in healthcare, the Minister said growth is meaningful only if it is inclusive.

"The argument is an argument that is played out as if it was theatre. Some extent there is spectacle in theatre when the arguments plays out in TV screens or newspaper. But I think we must listen to the voice of the Prime Minister who emphasised why growth will have meaning only if its inclusive growth," he said.

Chidambaram further said that the economy was going through challenging time.

"I am confident that the difficult year that we are passing through, last year was difficult this year is equally challenged, we will get over this trough and we will put India back on the high growth path," he said.

The Indian economy grew at a decade-low rate of 5 per cent in 2012-13 and is projected to grow between 5.5-6 per cent in the current fiscal.