PM Narendra Modi shakes hands with Karnataka CM H.D. Kumaraswamy, as West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Kerela CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu look on during the NITI Aayog meeting in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: PTI
PM Narendra Modi shakes hands with Karnataka CM H.D. Kumaraswamy, as West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Kerela CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu look on during the NITI Aayog meeting in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: PTI

NITI Aayog meet: Modi vows steps to take India’s growth rate to double digits

At the fourth governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog, PM Narendra Modi laid down a blueprint to make development more inclusive and correct economic imbalances

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday vowed to accelerate India’s GDP growth to more than 10% and laid down a blueprint to make development more inclusive and correct economic imbalances. Modi said the world expects India to almost double its GDP to $5 trillion soon.

In his opening remarks at the fourth meeting of the governing council of policy think tank NITI Aayog, Modi said that after having recorded a 7.7% growth in the March quarter, the challenge now is to accelerate the growth rate, for which many more important steps have to be taken.

The new economic growth goal follows the implemention of structural reforms such as creating a single market through the goods and services tax and a bankruptcy code to tackle bad loans.

Industry executives said it is possible to have double-digit growth with the right policy support. “Right cost of energy is essential for promoting manufacturing and boosting economic growth," said Sudhir Mathur, chief executive of Vedanta Cairn Oil and Gas.

Modi’s message also indicated the priority of his government in its final year in office before national polls early next year—effective and quick implementation of all welfare schemes meant to benefit the rural population. The meeting also witnessed chief ministers from some non-BJP-ruled states seeking financial support for farm loan waiver schemes and some protesting at the mandate given to the 15th Finance Commission, which they claim favour states that have failed to control population growth.

Modi laid out key areas of work to achieve an inclusive and fast-growing economy by 2022—doubling farmers’ income, development of backward districts, implementing the proposed health insurance scheme that seeks to give 5 lakh annual health cover to 100 million families, immunization of children and raising nutrition levels.

Modi also emphasized the need to tackle economic imbalances and suggested that all parameters of human development need to be improved upon in 115 districts identified as backward.

The prime minister said gram swaraj abhiyan, a drive to reach out to every household to enrol potential beneficiaries of welfare schemes, has become a new model for implementing schemes. This has so far been extended to 45,000 backward villages. Modi said the target is universal coverage in seven key welfare schemes—LPG connection without upfront charges, power for all households, distribution of energy efficient bulbs, financial inclusion, state-backed life insurance and accident insurance schemes and immunization of all children. He said this target was recently accomplished in about 17,000 villages.

In his closing remarks, Modi also called for a debate on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and state legislatures, which will lead to financial savings. Modi also urged states to make policies that attracts private investment in warehousing, transportation, value addition and food processing.

NITI Aayog is a key pillar in the federal set up that gives states and union territories a say in deciding national priorities, unlike the erstwhile Planning Commission, which was reconstituted as NITI Aayog in 2015.

Modi also assured chief ministers of central government help in dealing with the flood and landslides in certain parts of the country. Several states in North East, including Assam, Manipur and Tripura, are facing flood that caused a few deaths and damaged roads.

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