Booster dose for core sector--Housing, roads, irrigation: Montek

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New Delhi, Nov 25 (UNI) Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today said the Commission was drawing up an action plan to give a boost to infrastructure sectors, especially roads, irrigation and housing.

Addressing the Economic Editors Conference here, Dr Ahluwalia said after the Plan is drawn up he would take it for approval to both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Dr Ahluwalia was assissted in his remarks by Planning Commission member B K Chaturvedi.

Dr Ahluwalia said the boost to infrastructure sectors would require enhancing budgetary provisions for which another set of supplementary demands for grants would be needed.

The other mechanism that will be required would pertain to the Public- Private Partnership mode. The cobwebs in this regard would need to be eliminated, he said.

Dr Ahluwalia said he would not be able to give a figure for the amount for which pump priming would be required, saying that he would indicate this to Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Chidambaram first.

The Plan Panel Deputy head said enhancing public spending on the infrastructre sector was necessitated by the decline in private investment and would serve as a significant contracyclical measure to global downturn and its impact on the Indian economy.

Dr Ahluwalia is part of the Apex Committee, appointed and headed by the Prime Minister. The other members are Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and RBI Governor D Subbarao.

Sources said the action plan by the Commission has been mnadated by the Apex Committee.

He said a significant feature of the global turmoil was a shake in the confidence of the international investor, resulting in a dip in private investment.

In a situation of ths kind, it was natural that private investment would be wary of putting its money.

Dr Ahluwalia described boosting public investment in this sector as a short term measure to boost demand, which has dipped.

Dr Ahluwalia said it was not a day too late in giving a boost to highway projects.

Mr Chaturvedi said so far the Commission has identified three sectors where thrust needs to be given, namely roads, housing and irrigation.

UNI GS AK HS1712

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