Reforms to mark budget, says PM

Steps to stem rising prices

Reforms to mark budget, says PM

“We have an economic agenda in place. We have not given up reforms. I hope, in the (forthcoming) budget you will see a clearer picture of the reform agenda,” he said at an interactive session with Editors of the electronic media here.

Asserting that the government had not lost the will to pursue reforms, Singh said the government has been working on a host of reform initiatives.

On rising inflation, Singh, while admitting that food inflation in particular has been a problem, hoped that inflation would come down to 7 per cent by March-end from 8.23 per cent in January.

Singh said the government’s effort had been to rein in high prices without hurting growth momentum of the economy, which he projected to grow by 8.5 per cent in the current fiscal (2010-11). “We want to tackle inflation in a manner that the growth rhythm is not disturbed. If we were concerned only in curbing inflation, we could have done with pursuing tighter monetary policies. In this process, if the growth rate gets hurt that would not do any good to our economy”.  While asserting that the government was taking measures to cool down price rise, Singh said global factors like high crude and food prices were not under the control of the government.

Admitting that rising prices hurt the poor the most because they spend 60 per cent of their income on food, he outlined various safety nets being made to insulate the poor from “ill-effects” of food inflation through measures like Rural Employment Scheme and keeping prices at state-run ration shops unchanged since 2002.

“We must create a viable corporate debt market. I think that is the direction in which we must move,” he said.  Referring to efforts being made to create an infrastructure development fund, the Prime Minister indicated that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee might make some announcements in this direction in the forthcoming Budget.  He expressed confidence that country would witness “fresh” wave in infrastructure investment with the help of the new Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

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