Regional disparities haunt development: PM

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New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that inter-regional disparities remain a matter of concern in the course of the development process of the country.

''We remain concerned about inter-regional disparities in development. The nine per cent growth rate is an average of over 10 per cent in some parts of India and under three per cent in others,'' the PM said.

Dr Singh said large continental economies are bound to have inter-regional disparities but the gap between developed and backward region has to be reduced.

Speaking at the McKinsey Board meeting here, he said there are no signs of the ''catching up effect'' which is a matter of serious concern.

He said a number of initiatives have been taken to step up investment in agriculture and rural development, in education and health care, in urban renewal and poverty removal, in rural infrastructure and in rural employment generation. These initiatives are bearing results and will certainly make the growth process more inclusive.

Dr Singh stressed the need for the state government to come into the forefront. ''The implementation of many of our social and human development programmes is in the hands of State Governments. The capacity of State Governments to effectively plan and implement these programmes varies from state to state.'' He said there is still an unfinished agenda of economic reforms awaiting our attention at the Centre, the real action will have to be at the level of states.

The PM complimented McKinsey for the initiatives it has taken in India to work with State Governments.

Never before has the Indian economy sustained close to nine per cent growth year after year for so long, Dr Singh said.

''Most projections suggest that we should be able to sustain this rate to the medium term. You must compare this number against the fact that for almost three decades after Independence, our annual growth rate was a mere 3.5 per cent,'' he said.

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