New Delhi: The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that the country should aim to grow at double digits in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17). Singh also expressed confidence that the economy would grow at 8.5% in the next fiscal (2010-11) and bounce back to the trend growth rate of 9% in 2011-12.
Also See Growth Performance In The Five-year Plans (Graphic)
An annual 10% growth rate should be targeted to eliminate poverty and provide productive employment for the country’s young people, Singh said at a Planning Commission (PC) conference on infrastructure in Delhi. “This is the growth target which we should work towards for the 12th Five-Year Plan,” Singh said.
Singh said the growth rate achieved by India is well above those seen in the developed world and reflects the underlying resilience of the economy. “Our strengths can help us return to the 9% growth trajectory by 2011-12.”
However, he cautioned that the restoration of faster growth should not be taken for granted, as emphasized by the mid-term appraisal of the 11th Plan. While the 11th Plan had targeted 9% average growth during the five years, the PC has revised it downwards to 8.1% with the mid-term appraisal.
Singh said that the global environment is expected to remain difficult and exports are likely to grow more slowly than they did before the crisis. “We will need another source of demand to offset slower exports growth and that demand should ideally come from an expansion in investment in infrastructure, both in the rural areas and the economy in general,” he said.
The full PC, including key ministers and Singh, discussed the draft report of the mid-term appraisal that has been completed by the government agency.
The appraisal is based on analysis of sectoral data, review of official documents and other independent reports, consultations with experts in the field, discussions with nodal departments of the implementing ministries as well as state government departments dealing with the subject.
Singh said that if it could be ensured that the various schemes for supporting agriculture production, expanding irrigation and building rural infrastructure are implemented well in the remaining two years of the Plan, “there is a good chance that agricultural growth may come close to the 4% target (for the 11th Plan).”
In the current fiscal, the farm sector is expected to contract 0.2% due to a drought in many parts of the country.
The mid-term appraisal of the 11th Five-Year Plan for the health sector has recommended that a shift in approach is required towards “area specific interventions” rather than universalisation of programmes. It also emphasised the need to create a regulated quasi-market for healthcare through carefully tailored public private partnerships. “This will ensure that the poor, as much as the rich, can exercise a degree of choice in utilisation of healthcare services.
Singh said that the government’s target is to cut the percentage of the population below the poverty line by 10 percentage points during the Plan period. “This implies a pace of poverty reduction more than twice that experienced in the past,” he added.
PTI and Santosh K. Joy of Mint contributed to this story.
Graphic by Naveen Kumar Saini / Mint