Growth to be protected; PM tells industry not to indulge in lay-offs

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New Delhi, Nov 3 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today gave a categorical assurance that the GDP growth rate and other relevant growth parameters will be protected at all costs, notwithstanding the turmoil created by the global financial crisis, and asked industry to refrain from large-scale job lay-offs.

''I would like to assure each one of you that the government will take all necessary monetary and fiscal policy measures on the domestic front to protect our growth rates,'' Dr Singh said in rendezvous with captains of industry here.

The Prime Minister admitted that Indian economy cannot remain insulated from the crisis of the magnitude that was being witnessed at the global scale.

The Prime Minister said international credit has shrunk with adverse effects on Indian corporates and banks. Global uncertainty was also tending to dampen investor sentiment, he said.

He said the government's first priority was to protect the country's financial system from possible loss of confidence or contagion effects.

''I think we have successfully conveyed to our people that our banking system, both in the public and the private sector, is safe, and the government stands behind it and no one should fear for the safety of bank deposits,'' the Prime Minister said.

Talking about the steps taken by the government to ease liquidity, Dr Singh said, ''I believe these steps have made a substantial difference. We recognise that the situation is abnormal and we need to be constantly on alert. The situation is being watched on a day to day basis and more steps will be taken if required.'' He asked industry not to resort to large scale lay-offs, while undertaking other cost-cutting measures and enhance productivity to combat the impact of the global economic crisis. ''While every effort needs to be made to cut costs and raise productivity, I hope there will be no knee-jerk reaction such as large scale lay-offs, which may lead to a negative spiral,'' Dr Singh said.

Apart from three heads of the apex chambers--FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM, ten captains of industry attended the meeting.

They include DLF Chairman K P Singh, Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) Chairman Anil Ambani, Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Enterprises Ltd Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, Mahindra&Mahindra Ltd Vice- Chairman Anand G Mahindra, HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh and ITC Chairman Y C Deveshwar.

Industry asked the government to take decisive action to ward off any adverse impact arising out of global financial crisis.

The captains of industry called for a complete reversal of the hawkish policy stance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by infusing huge liquidity to spur growth.

This the first meeting that the Prime Minister has had with industry leaders ever since the global financial turmoil appeared on the horizon.

Eds: here picking up suitably from earlier series.

UNI MP/GS SBA AS2109

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