Pranab Mukherjee looks to promising financial year

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New Delhi, Feb 27(ANI): Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday admitted that the last two years have been tough for the country's economy, as he inaugurated 82nd annual session of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in the national capital.

A day after he unveiled the Union Budget, Mukherjee said low growth rates seen in 2009 were a complex issue for the Finance Ministry.

"Growth of the last quarter of the preceding year came down to 5.8 percent, and what a contrast from the continuous 9 percent GDP growth over a reasonably long period of time! The problem was complicated," said Mukherjee.

One of the key challenges that Mukherjee highlighted in his presentation in the Parliament on Friday was returning to a growth rate of nine percent, and aiming for double-digit figures in the long term.

The optimistic growth projections also led to tighter fiscal and monetary policy as Mukherjee announced plans to review stimulus measures taken in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The Finance Minister said the impact of economic decline had posed major concerns for the government.

"The rise in the international commodity prices affected domestic inflation in the first half of 2008. Exports declined sharply due to a widespread slowdown in the global economy. This had implications for employment growth, especially in the export sectors of the economy," Mukherjee said.

"There was considerable uncertainty on financial flows into the economy. On the domestic side we had to confront the uncertainty arising out of the delayed monsoons, which had repercussions on the inflation and the growth of rural demand. Each of these developments raised concerns for our policy makers," he added.

Mukherjee said the government is committed to curbing the country's ballooning fiscal deficit, which stands at an estimated 6.9 percent of GDP. (ANI)

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