Expect at least 8.5 percent growth rate: PM

"It is our ambition to maintain the present rate of at least 8.5 percent per annum and as of now I have not seen any signs that we should change our view," Manmohan Singh told reporters aboard a special aircraft on his way back home from a six-day tour of Ethiopia and  Tanzania.

He was responding to a question on the economic prospects of the country this year. The prime minister added that if the monsoon is normal, it will strengthen the government's ability to control food inflation.

"Agriculture situation will unfold itself. Whatever evidence we have, we expect a normal monsoon," he said. Latest data for food inflation showed that the index had risen to 8.55 percent for the week ended May 14, the highest level in weeks.

Inflation based on wholesale prices also continued to reign high and was recorded at 8.66 percent in April.

"Our basic agenda remains the agenda to accelerate the tempo of economic growth at the rate of about 9-10 percent per annum and also in the process ensure that the growth benefits all sections of the our communities," the prime minister said.

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