Effects of downturn melting; drought can be handled: Manmohan Singh

Effects of downturn melting; drought can be handled: Manmohan Singh

Global economy slowly returning to normalcy: PM

Effects of downturn melting; drought can be handled: Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister and Chairman of Planning Commission Manmohan Singh arrives at the full Planning Commission meeting to discuss the state of economy and integrated energy policy in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI"We are in a very strong position to manage the consequence of drought. Our food stocks in particular are very high...we should not be over-pessimistic", he said in his concluding remarks at the meeting of the full Planning Commission.

The country has a buffer food grain stock of 50 million tonnes, enough to meet the requirement of the public distribution system for 13 months.

Chairing the first meeting of the full plan panel in his second term, Singh said the economy has to deal with the lingering effects of global slowdown and impact of drought, but it also has underlying strengths built over the years.

The government is now focusing on drought management, including protecting kharif (summer) crop and ensuring a normal rabi (winter) crop.
To revive investment, especially in infrastructure, the Prime Minister said the government would streamline Public Partnership Project (PPP) norms.

"The progress (in implementation of PPP projects) has been less than what we would have wanted. We are taking steps to streamline the process so that PPP projects can move faster", Singh added.

The Prime Minister also underlined the need for expanding the scope of PPP to include projects in social sectors like health, education and urban development.
The Planning Commission should interact with the Ministries concerned to exploit the opportunity for PPP more fully, Singh said, stressing that "any initiatives in these areas must not weaken our commitment to inclusiveness."

He said the government's rural employment flagship programme NREG would be converged with other other programmes to minimise the impact of drought this year.
Also, "we have ...to ensure that the momentum of planned development is maintained in the next two years (of 11th Plan) and that our flagship programmes are fully funded," he noted.
The global financial meltdown had constrained resource mobilisation and capital flows to developing economies, thus hitting investments - key to economic growth.
As a result, India's economic growth slipped to 6.7 per cent in 2008-09 from about 9 per cent in the previous fiscal. The plan panel expects it to fall to 6.3 per cent in 2009-10.

"We have been through a difficult year because of the global economic downturn which is only now coming to an end with a slow return to normalcy in the months that lie ahead," Singh said.
Besides Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and other members, the meeting was attended by over a dozen ministers including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Singh also underlined the need for rational energy policies, saying: "Energy is vital for our economic growth and this is the area where we are a deficit economy. We import over 70 per cent of our petroleum energy needs and are also moving to a deficit position in coal".

Rational energy policies, he added, were also critical for rational responses to the threat of climate change. "This is a new compulsion and we need to asses whether we are on track in critical aspects of our energy policies," he said.

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