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Govt to unveil `major initiative' on farm front

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Govt to unveil `major initiative' in next 10 days

THREE-YEAR REPORT CARD: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, releasing the `Report to the People 2004-2007' in New Delhi on Tuesday. - Shanker Chakravarty
THREE-YEAR REPORT CARD: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, releasing the `Report to the People 2004-2007' in New Delhi on Tuesday. - Shanker Chakravarty

Our Bureau

New DelhiMay 22The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday said that the country was headed for a fifth successive year of 8.5 per cent plus growth, made possible by investment rates hitting an all-time high of 35 per cent of the national income.

In a report marking the completion of three years by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre, the Prime Minister sought to allay concerns that the present growth phase had left out vast sections of the population or accentuated regional imbalances.

Stating that the UPA Government was promoting an "inclusive growth" strategy, Dr Singh said that this had been done through stepping up investments in rural infrastructure and agriculture, increasing credit availability to farmers and offering them remunerative price for their produce, besides putting in place the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme and enhancing public spends on education and healthcare.

He said the Government would be unveiling a "major initiative" in the next 10 days, which will not only enhance the total public investment in agriculture, but will also enable States to resolve problems of agriculture through comprehensive localised plans.

"Through Bharat Nirman, we expect to invest Rs 1,74,000 crore in rural roads, housing, drinking water supply, irrigation, electrification and telecommunication," he said.

Further, the budgetary allocation for education has been nearly trebled in three years to Rs 32,000 crore in 2007-08, while that for health and family welfare more than doubled to Rs 17,560 crore.

In agriculture and rural development, funding has been stepped up to over Rs 60,000 crore this fiscal, he added.

The Prime Minister said that the massive increase in public spending had not led to the Government reneging on its commitment to fiscal discipline.

While admitting that the growth processes "unleashed" by his Government had put "some pressure" on prices, he maintained that "credible steps" had been taken to control inflation.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 23, 2007)
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