Sops to farmers to keep India growth story in tact: FM

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New Delhi, Mar 1 (UNI) Finance Miniser P Chidambaram says the sops to farmers and other marginalised groups in the Budget 2008-09 were intended to keep the India growth story intact adding that it was the responsibility of the State governments to implement the grandiose anti- poverty programmes outlined in the document.

''The govern met wants the budget to boost growth while curbing inflation,'' Mr Chidambaram told Lok Sabha Television in an interview.

''Our goal is to be continue to be investment driven growth ...

and to keep inflation under check,'' he said.

On a question relating to accusations by the opposition of presenting an 'election budget' and by media of bringing a 'please all budget', the Minister said, ''the intention was not to please everyone ... (our aim) is that the growth story should remain unhindered.'' ''The (growth)story of course would remain incomplete if we did not pay attention to sections like farmers, SC, Sts and above all women,'' he added.

The budget for 2007-08, has come out with a series of sops which included a Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver package for farmers and another nearly Rs 50,000 crore spending on SC, STs, minorities and women.

Mr Chidambaram said one of the budget's aim was to create wealth for the 'people'. ''It will ensure that jobs will increase, savings and investment will rise ... the budget should stimulate investment and growth.'' The minister said while conventional economics states that spending could be inflationary but said today growth is consumption driven and necessary to stimulate demand.

Industrial growth has come down to 9.2 per cent during April-November 2007, compared to 11.6 per cent in the same period last year.

However, the government would try to balance its twin goals of stimulating growth and controlling inflation.

''We will take monetary and fiscal steps,'' if inflationary pressures mounted, the finance minister said.

Asked whether steps taken would ensure stressed sectors picked up, Mr Chidambaram said ''we have given an across the board two per cent reduction on 16 per cent CENVAT, which works out to be a 12.5 per cent overall reduction. Besides we have given deeper cuts in sectors like drugs, cars, two-wheelers , paper besides customs cut to boost manufacturing.'' He said the measures he had taken such as spending on National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme would put money in the hands of poor people. And added that ''increased spending on health and education would lead lead to enormous savings in work output.'' The government has announced spending of Rs 16,534 crore on health and another Rs 34,400 crore on education, an increase of 15 per cent and 20 per cent for the two sectors respectively.

But Mr Chidambaram who also announced a central plan scheme monitoring system to monitor the implementation of flagship schemes said the success of these schemes would depended on state governments. ''I can only appeal to state governments to govern better and people to elect governments that work better,'' he said.

Answering questions on whether India would be impacted by the global recessionary trends emanating from the US sub-prime crisis, the Finance Minister said India was not dependent on global cues.

However, he warned the ''the consequences for developing economies are not yet fully clear ... (but) if all goes well we will not be too much effected.'' UNI GS BJR HS1817

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