New Delhi: India will push forward with reforms and needs to increase investment in rural education, health and infrastructure to raise the economic growth rate up to 10%, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday.
The unexpectedly strong re-election of a coalition led by Singh’s Congress party at national elections in raised hopes of sweeping reforms, but apart from stake sales in some government firms no major steps have been taken yet.
Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Manmohan Singh said: “We need to push forward the reform process ... and we will do so.”
“We have to create an environment conducive to growth of entrepreneurship in our urban economy. At the same time we must ensure government’s greater involvement in rural development,” Singh said.
India’s primary challenge in the next decade was to sustain high growth and ensure it was equitable, he said.
“We should aim to sustain annual growth rate of 9-10% per annum,” Singh said.
Making it clear that development of rural areas and uplift of social classes would be crucial to building the “India of tomorrow,” he said his government had taken a series of initiatives aimed at investing in rural and urban infrastructure, generating maximum employment and improving productivity of farm economy.
To a question about reforms, particularly in labour, insurance and financial sector, being stalled, he said, “We need to push forward the reforms process in the areas you mentioned and we will do so.”
Among the challenges he listed were the building of modern, efficient and environment-friendly infrastructure and ensuring that government and public services are efficient and responsive to people’s needs and function transparently.
Singh pitched for increased investments in physical and social infrastructure, paying particular attention in the needs of agriculture and the rural areas.
Growth in Asia’s third-largest economy slowed to a six-year low of 6.7% in 2008-09 (April-March) from rates 9% or more in the previous three years.
Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of India forecast growth for 2009-10 at 6% with an upward bias.
Congress and its allies won three state polls held earlier this month, giving it more power to push reforms. Government officials have said sweeping reforms, including removing fuel subsidies, were need to return India to a high growth path.
‘India’s stand on climate talks not unreasonable’
Ahead of the climate change talks in Copenhagen, India on Friday said its stand on greenhouse gas emissions was not “unreasonable” and it would fulfil its obligations to nature while being consistent with commitment to the welfare of its people.
“We will approach the international negotiations on global warming, climate change and carbon emissions as responsible global citizens,” Manmohan Singh said at the summit here.
He said India would fulfil its obligations to nature and to humanity consistent with its commitment to the welfare and well being of its people and the poor of the world.
“Equally, we expect the developed nations, and those who have so far drawn unduly on nature’s bounty to bear their due share of the burden.
“Ours is not an unreasonable stance. It is based on our worldview that the ‘whole world is one family´ and on our commitment to the principles of inclusive growth,” Singh said.
PM wishes Pak success in tackling terror
Seeking a neighbourhood of peace, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has wished Pakistan, grappling with many internal problems, success in tackling terrorism.
Reaching out to Pakistan for the third consecutive day, Singh said destinies of the two countries and that of other south Asian countries were closely interlinked.
“Pakistan is grappling with many internal problems. Rise of terrorism is one of them. I wish them success (in combating terrorism),” Singh said.