Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened the three-day summit on Sunday with an agenda for reforms. He credited his government’s stimulus package with protecting India from the global recession and said there are clear signs of an upturn despite an erratic monsoon. With the economy back on track, Singh said it would soon be time to withdraw the stimulus package.
The prime minister also stressed the need for financial sector reform in India. Singh told his audience India needed to strengthen its market for corporate bonds and long-term debt besides developing its futures market and reforming the insurance sector.
Later, Singh also said high quality infrastructure was essential for India’s growth and also called for greater spending in education and health.
The prime minister’s emphasis on the social sector was welcomed by industry.
In another session on Sunday, commerce minister Anand Sharma sounded a note of cautious optimism about India’s economy and trade with the rest of the world.
Sharma also warned against protectionism and reminded his audience that the rebound was linked to stimulus packages.
Inflation was the hot topic in another session. Talking about India’s economic outlook, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia admitted that there was a disconnect between inflation figures and actual prices.
Ahluwalia also expressed optimism about the overall state of the economy, saying he expected an average economic growth rate of 9% during the current Five-Year-Plan.