M.K. Venu: Mr. Prime Minister, what are your first thoughts on the budget?
Manmohan Singh: Given the challenges facing our economy, the finance minister has done a commendable job. India needs to create jobs for our growing labour force to the extent of about 10 million persons every year. To do that, we need to accelerate the tempo of our growth. We need, as the 12th Five Year Plan has mentioned eloquently, a growth rate of about 8 percent. This is a growth rate which is consistent with our underlying potential. We have to get there. Although this is a difficult journey— it cannot be accomplished in a single year— but the finance minister, has taken important steps to reverse the pessimistic view with regard to investment climate, with regard to the growth potential and possibilities of our economy.
What reforms are you looking at in the six months ahead?
Well. The finance minister has laid out a roadmap. There is plenty of food for every ministry to chew upon. And each one of our ministries has to ask itself this question: If India needs an 8 percent growth rate, growth which is at the same time inclusive and sustainable, what is it that each ministry should do ? The finance minister has, I think, mentioned these challenges. It is up to the collective wisdom of my Council of Ministers to convert these challenges into opportunities to accelerate the tempo of growth, to make it more inclusive, to make it more sustainable.
Will your government get adequate support in Parliament? There seems to be a perceptible change in the attitude of the Opposition. But is the bureaucracy on board? Are projects being cleared?
There have been problems with regard to clearances, with regard to environmental clearances, with regard to forest clearances, land acquisition problems, many of these areas are the responsibility of the state government. Whatever is within the realm of possibilities of the central government’s action points, we have committed ourselves that we will use the mechanism of the Cabinet Committee on Investment to grapple with these tensions which exist in our system, and to ensure that roadblocks, whether they are environmental clearance roadblocks, or forest clearances, or other roadblocks, they are dealt with, so that they can be cleared and removed.
You are confident that a positive climate is there for projects to be cleared?
Well. I think he is speaking on behalf of the Cabinet. And I am pretty certain that the mood of the country is: this country must not lose any time. It must get its act together to accelerate the tempo of economic growth, sustainable growth, equitable growth, and I do believe that if the general mood of the country is right, it will infect the bureaucracy, it will infect the opposition, and in this task, there are no winners or no losers. If India succeeds in sticking to a growth path of 8 percent or more, I think the winners will be the people of India; winners will be our young men and young women, who desperately need new productive job opportunities.
How worried are you about structural deficiencies that have crept into the economy?
There are today, three types of barriers, which can affect the realization of the growth potential. One is the fiscal deficit. The finance minister has charted a path to bring the fiscal deficit under control, and if we succeed in that quest, I think we would have created a better climate for investment; we would have created a better climate also for more moderate levels of inflation than we have had in the last two years.
The second problem is that inflation has gone out of hand. Therefore, if the fiscal deficit is brought under control, it will also enable us to moderate the pace of inflation.
The third is, the Current Account Deficit. We cannot reduce the current account deficit in one go. As the finance minister mentioned, we have a Current Account Deficit of about 75 billion dollars. In the short run, it has to be financed. In the medium run, it must be reduced. We must reduce our dependence on imports of oil, of coal, of gold, of petroleum products. This is a medium term objective, and it can be achieved, partly by reducing unwanted imports, partly by boosting the country’s export effort.
So a multi-pronged strategy has to be in place to achieve credible answers to all these three problems— tackling the fiscal deficit, tackling the inflation problem, tackling the Current Account Deficit
What is a safe Current Account Deficit for us?
In my view— 2.5 to 3 percent of GDP is a safe level of Current Account Deficit.
What do you see as the GDP growth in the coming fiscal?
The finance minister has mentioned, and yesterday’s Economic Survey also hints, that it is realistic to assume a growth rate of about 6.2 to 6.7%, and that in three years time, if we work hard, if the world economy also improves, we should get back to the 8 percent growth path— in two to three years time.
The transcript of the Prime Minister's post-budget interaction with Doordarshan News appears here courtesy PIB
TWENTY THOUSAND CRORES are spent for the welfare of the anti-males, at the expense of the taxes from the sweat and toil of hard working males!
This kind of expenditure is unsustainable, Mr. Prime Minister.
UPA-I assumed power in 2004 when India was growing at 8-10%. UPA -I&II worked hard for 10 YEARS to bring down Indian growth rate to 4.5%. All the acclaimed "so called international" ECONOMIST of UPA seems to be holding FAKE DIGREES !!!!!!! ------------- Give another FIVE YEARS till 2019 as UPA-III and the Indian growth would be brought down to the GLORIOUS RATE OF 3% achieved for 45 years of Congress Rule from 1947 to 1997.
Yes. Of course.
Road map to ruin.
" And each one of our ministries has to ask itself this question:..."
I am sure that is what Manmohan SIngh asked Raja-what is he doing to ensure 8% growth. Raja did what he knew!!!!!!!!!
Jokes aside, what the heck has Manmohan Singh been doing for the last 9 years? Has he steered his ministers towards this goal? Has he demanded an action plan from his ministers to ensure 8% growth?
We know the answer. Manmohan Singh has zero credibility on any issue. APart from his boot lickers in the media, nobody takes him seriously anymore.
The interviewer could have spent his time more usefully by taking a nap.
The Chidambaram’s views are very clear. When we discuss whether interests of common man are served by the Union budget, we often hear about influence of corporate houses on our economy, politics and politicians. This indeed is a bitter reality that big industrialists and businessmen do control our political parties and no political party can afford to deny it. Another truth is that a country like ours, with huge population of poor and a relatively unsatisfactory record of governance, can hardly depend upon good schemes and good intentions of the governments as expressed in the budget. Implementation is the key and during the last sixty five years we have singularly failed to use our resources for the maximum welfare of the poor and under-privileged. We do have laws, which are not implemented in spirit, as can be seen in the case of the Consumer Protection Act or the latest The Right to Education Act.
Therefore, time has come for we the citizens to participate more actively in national affairs and tell political parties and their leaders very clearly that governance must improve. They must reduce wasteful expenditure, take steps to control tax revenue leakages and to implement welfare schemes for the poor in a far more transparent and efficient manner.
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