Govt confident of sustaining 9% growth: Kamal Nath

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (UNI) Notwithstanding the rupee appreciation and high interest rates, India will achieve nine per cent plus growth rate in the current fiscal Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said.

Replying to questions at a media conference here this evening, he said the Prime Minister's Trade and Economic Relations Council today discussed with industry leaders the impact of rupee appreciation and high interest rates on the economy. But he claimed that participants were confident of sustaining growth achieved in 2006-07.

Evenwhile admitting that 1.5 lakh jobs had been lost in last four months on account of decline in exports hard hit by the rising rupee, Mr Kamal Nath claimed that the growth momentum of GDP will be maintained and the country will be able to sustain the 9 plus growth rate achieved in the last financial year. Business and industry leaders, too, expressed the optimism of achieving it in the Council meeting, he added.

He said 65 per cent growth in the inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first half of 2007-08 was indicative of investors' confidence in the Indian economy. It was 7.2 billion dollar in the April-September period as against 4.4 billion dollar during the comparable period in 2006-07, he added.

Mr Kamal Nath will meet the Prime Minister again this evening to review macroeconomic parameteres of the Indian economy. He said the government was considering various measures to not only sustain but also boost exports in the current financial year.

"Exporters could be reimbursed for state levies and taxes and amount deducted from states' allocation," Mr Kamal Nath revealed in reply to a question. This could be discussed with states which are participating in the National Development Council meeting here tomorrow, he added.

Exporters must be provided a level-playing field and the Union Government was considering several measures to provide it to them in consultation with state governments. States must become competitive to drive up India's growth story, he added.

The meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, was attended by Mr Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Industry leaders, including Ratan Tata, Rahul Bajaj, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal who are members of the Council, also participated in the discussions.

Mr Kamal Nath said the Prime Minister's evening meeting will be a close-knit affairs with only Finance Minister P Chidambaram, himself, Dr Ahluwalia and the Chief Economic Advisor attending it.

UNI

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