Pranab wants infrastructure snags addressed

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`China invested $150 b in infrastructure in 2003, whereas India invested $21 b'


Our Bureau

Kolkata, June 18

Massive infrastructure deficiency, fiscal consolidation, political stability and correcting the sectoral imbalance through massive rural investment are the four key areas that must be addressed by the Government, if a GDP growth of 8-9 per cent has to be sustained during the course of the 11th Plan period beginning April 1, 2007.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the 105th Annual General Meeting of the Merchants Chamber of Commerce (MCC) here on Sunday, the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, said that in absolute terms in 2003, China invested $150 billion (Rs 6,85,500 crore) in the four key area infrastructure areas of airport, sea port, electricity and roads, whereas, India invested $21 billion (Rs 95,970 crore).

Suggesting a consensus approach in fiscal consolidation, given a combined fiscal deficit (Centre and the States) of 8.8 per cent of the GDP, he said if urgent steps are not taken now, massive transfer of resources to States would be required to correct the situation.

Consensus approach

He said if a growth rate of 8-9 per cent has to be sustained during the 11th and 12th Plan periods, strong fiscal correction was required.

Regular development in the far-flung areas of the country, he felt, could not take place if political stability and a firm security environment are not maintained.

Seeking massive rural investment, the Minister said a concerned Group of Ministers was now working on a programme to suggest creation of model villages, with the necessary ingredients. Seeking the help of the Chambers of Commerce like MCC, he said the corporates could adopt a third of the identified villages, with the NGOs adopting another third and the balance by the normal administrative Ministries of the Government.

Earlier, Mr Santosh Saraf, President of MCC, in his welcome address, said India produced only a third of its defence requirements in all the eight PSUs and 40 Ordinance factories, and that imports for defence supplies were substantial, resulting in huge outgo of resources. He felt such an outgo could be reduced considerably if the Ordinance factories are upgraded and re-equipped to produce all imported items, thereby sufficiently opening up defence production to the private sector in the country.

Responding, the Defence Minister said a plan has been chalked out to encourage both the PSUs and the private sector to indigenise defence production through the Public Private Partnership Programme.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 19, 2006)
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