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Govt will take bold steps for reforms: Manmohan Singh

Aug 01, 2013

"Poverty is falling faster even though there are disputes going on among the professional colleagues about the pace of change,” said the Indian Prime Minister.

Committing to accelerate the pace of reforms, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh said the government will have to act boldly and decisively to revive economic growth and prove nay-sayers wrong.

"I do not underestimate the task before us. As the Twelfth Plan points out, our preferred scenario of strong inclusive growth at an average rate of 8 per cent per year will not come from business as usual policies. We have to act boldly and decisively" he said.

The Prime Minister was speaking in New Delhi after releasing a book 'An Agenda for India's Growth: Essays in Honour of P Chidambaram'.

Observing that the last couple of years have been challenging, he said: "We must view this as a short term deceleration. Our government is determined to once again accelerate the pace of change. Once again, we will prove the naysayers and Cassandras of doom wrong."

Over the past decade, Singh said, when the economy had absorbed the full benefit of the reforms that began in 1991, it had grown at close to 7.5 per cent.

He added: "Our growth rate has slowed down to 5 per cent in 2012-13. But this should not make us feel disheartened and imagine that we have slipped back to our old growth rate."

He further said that the government has to deal with macro economic imbalances and major challenges in key sectors such as energy, water, and land.

Highlighting the achievements of the past five years, he said the growth has been much more inclusive.

"Poverty is falling faster even though there are disputes going on among the professional colleagues about the pace of change. Per capita consumption in real terms in rural areas has increased four times faster from 2004-05 than it did earlier. The erstwhile BIMARU states are doing much better," he added.

Parliamentary majority alone is not enough to pursue reforms as there are differences within parties, Singh said adding, "for reforms to be credible it is necessary that a wide cross section of society should understand the need for and accept, the policy changes that a government wishes to make".

Dr Singh, who is credited with opening up the economy, said reforms do not happen just because there is a professional consensus.

"In a democracy, reform be it of economic policy or of institutions is essentially a political process. We have to build a sufficiently wide political consensus in favour of the policies we wish to adopt," the Prime Minister said.

Recently, the government has taken a slew of measures to bring in more foreign investment and intends to get key legislations, like the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislations passed by Parliament.

Dr Singh said infrastructure is a key constraint with many large projects held up.

The Cabinet Committee on Investment which has set up gives a mechanism to overcome bureaucratic delays, he added.

He said the policy agenda for bringing back India's growth momentum has been outlined in detail in the 12th Plan.

"Our strategy must not only aim at faster growth but must also ensure that the growth processes are more inclusive," he said, adding that there are many policies that can help achieve this objective.

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