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Monday, Jul 15, 2002

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Review reform process, says Asim Dasgupta

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KOLKATA, July 14

THE West Bengal Finance Minister, Dr Asim Dasgupta, has sought a review of the 11-year-old economic reforms process in the country, as, in his opinion, it had digressed from its stated goals.

Delivering the Foundation Day oration of the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (Nabard) here, Dr Dasgupta said that in4discriminate imports have created unequal competition between multinationals and the Indian corporates.

According to him, one of the main reasons for the current industrial slowdown was that the domestic outfits have gradually lost their market in the liberalisation era. "There has also been an adverse effect on the agriculture and plantations sector in terms of falling prices of the produce.''

The resultant unemployment and loss of purchasing power among people have caused a process of acute demand-deficiency, he added.

India, along with other Third World countries, Dr Dasgupta suggested, must press for a fresh 10-year timeframe at WTO for preparation to bring down all barriers and reduction in Government support to economic activities. Providing an alternative to the current approach pursued by the Government, Dr Dasgupta said that India should participate in globalisation, but on the basis of more equal competition.

``Within this period of support, we should make efforts at increasing productivity and reducing production costs, create an efficient domestic core of self-reliance and then participate in globalisation,'' he observed. Dr Dasgupta argued that over the years, the First World economy has developed a system of support and the industry and agriculture there have thrived on it. This also institutionalised a system of unequal competition within the First World, which has not been fully dismantled.

During this minimum period of support, it would be necessary to maintain a balanced policy of imports and exports, he said. In his opinion, capital account convertibility should be strictly avoided.

``Such a balanced approached will help increase domestic production and generate employment in an efficient and sustainable manner. In coordination with the Third World countries, this proposal should be strongly raised as early as possible in the WTO forum for modification of conditionalities,'' Dr Dasgupta added.

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