Plan panel moots $10 b wealth fund

Growth in 2nd half crucial for economy

Plan panel moots $10 b wealth fund

“Sovereign Wealth Fund is something that the Finance Ministry is looking at. We have suggested to start with $10 billion,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters here on the sidelines of a Ficci event.

Sovereign Wealth Fund is a government-owned corpus where money is pooled in from state resources to invest in overseas assets.

India has been mulling to set up its own fund in order to acquire strategic overseas assets in mining and energy segments to meet its future needs.

Countries like China and Singapore have already set up their sovereign wealth funds. Even China has acquired significant asset in foreign land through investment from its $400 billion fund in the recent past.

Referring to GDP growth in the current fiscal, Ahluwalia said that growth in the second half of the year would be crucial to attain 8 per cent economic expansion in the current financial year. “Growth could be around 8 per cent (this fiscal). But, in the first quarter, it is below that. So to achieve 8 per cent, the growth has to accelerate in the second half of the year,” he said.

He also said that he is not focusing on short-term issues rather looking at improving growth numbers in the future.

Ahluwalia also said that RBI has to decide whether it wants to give a pause to the monetary tightening policy.

“I generally agree with the Finance Minister. Personally, what the Finance Minister has said is an indication of what the government thinks. But, it’s a (RBI) Governor’s call,” Ahluwalia said.

The central bank has raised key policy rates 11 times in the last one-and-a-half years to rein in rising inflation. However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently said that the central bank should give a pause to such liquidity squeeze in the wake up a global economic turmoil.

About the fiscal deficit target, he said it is possible to stick to 4.6 per cent fiscal deficit target if the government keeps expenditure under control.

“I have noted and welcomed what the Finance Minister has said (regarding fiscal deficit) and we are hopeful that they will be able to stick to the fiscal deficit,” he said.
As a huge amount of expenditure is approved in supplements, the government has the leverage to control this, he added.

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