President's speech to focus on social sector, economy

President's speech to focus on social sector, economy

"The meeting discussed the president's speech to parliament. No other decision was taken," Jairam Ramesh, the new minister of state for environment and forests, said as he emerged from the meeting at the prime minister's Race Course Road house.

The first session of the 15th Lok Sabha will begin Monday with the swearing in of new MPs. The speaker will be elected June 3, and President Pratibha Patil will address a joint session of both houses June 4.

The president's address, extensively worked on by Manmohan Singh, will unveil the government's agenda for the year in tune with the policies and programmes of the ruling Congress party and its allies.

The prime minister has promised a 100-day action plan for his government and is expected to give emphasis to the United Progressive Alliance's unfinished agenda, especially in infrastructure and development sectors, and announce a fresh package to pull the economy out of its slowdown.

As promised ahead of the April-May elections, the government is also expected to promulgate a National Food Security Act to guarantee 25 kg of rice or wheat a month to impoverished families.

Among other issues that will figure prominently in the president's speech are strengthening of key social sector programmes like the rural employment and Bharat Nirman schemes, initiatives for urban employment as well as terrorism, official sources said.

There will be a debate June 5, 8 and 9 on the president's address after which the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, which convenes June 4, will pass a motion of thanks before adjourning.

The budget session of parliament is likely to begin in the first week of July.

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