The Mint Report for 16 February 2011

The Mint Report for 16 February 2011

Manmohan Singh’s government has been under attack over everything from corruption scandals to soaring prices. But on Wednesday he tried to win back the initiative. In a rare interaction with editors of TV channels, India’s Prime Minister promised reforms and greater development while also reasserting his authority.

Singh told editors his government had not given up on economic reforms. He also said he hoped the upcoming budget would make the reform agenda clearer.

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Also high on the Prime Minister’s agenda was tackling inflation. Singh reiterated his government’s prediction that wholesale inflation would be no more than seven percent by the end of March. He added that inflation would have to be controlled without impeding growth. But the PM also threw in the caveat that the government couldn’t control rising prices of crude oil. Finally, Singh said his administration would try and help the poor cope with inflation through social programmes like MGNREGA.

Not surprisingly, opposition parties have attacked Singh’s statements. In particular, the BJP and Left have criticized him for making what they consider weak statements on corruption, and for blaming them for stalled proceedings at Parliament.

Indian markets have maintained their winning streak for a fourth day in a row, but with more modest gains. The Sensex climbed 27 points to 18,300. And the Nifty nudged up less than one point to 5,482.