New Delhi, Mar 14: Finance Minister P Chidambaram today claimed that the UPA Government had brought down the fiscal deficit from 4.5 per cent during the NDA regime to 3.1 per cent this year and said it would be the ruling coalition's endeavour to reduce it further to 2.5 per cent by next year.
Replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the discussion on General Budget 2008-09, he said the singlemost important achievement of his government was the creation of the fiscal space which had never happened in the past. The Finance Minister, who appeared relaxed and confident, said that the GDP, which was 5.9 per cent during the NDA's tenure, had been increased to 8.8 per cent during the UPA Government's tenure.
''This is also a record of sorts that the UPA Government has maintained 6 per cent plus growth rate during the 13 successive quarters, including the present one,'' he added.
Mr Chidambaram said this was the reason why the government had the strength and the confidence to undertake more schemes and projects. ''We now have the capacity to spend on projects, something which has never happened...this is because of the high growth and enormous collection of revenue,'' he added.
The minister said that because of high growth, the government could spend on the development of education, agriculture and other areas. ''This has caused awe and envy in the NDA,'' he remarked sarcastically.
Pointing out that the the growth worldwide was measured by the GDP, per capita income, human index, fiscal deficit, balance of payment and national savings, Mr Chidambaram said there was chance now for creating equality and inclusive growth and wiping out the stigma of poverty.