Mukherjee, a key player to India's economic reform process: Geithner

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New Delhi, Apr 6 (ANI): US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday to launch the U.S. - India Economic and Financial Partnership, described Mukherjee as the key to the economic reform process that began in India years ago.

We meet at a time of encouraging prospects for the U.S. and Indian economies, and the beginnings of global economic recovery," said Geithner, thanking Mukherjee and his staff for being such gracious hosts.

"A year ago, the heads of state of India and the United States came together in London with the leaders of the other members of the G-20 and embarked on a powerful and coordinated program of economic stimulus," he added.

Geithner said: "They committed to act to restore stability to the financial systems of the major economies, to provide financial support to emerging and developing economies on a dramatic scale, to keep markets open to trade and investment, to restore growth in their own economies, and to lay the foundation for international financial reform."

"Those actions worked, and the world is now starting to come out of the great recession, the most severe crisis since the Great Depression," he added.

"In the U.S., the economy has now been growing for three quarters. While unemployment remains unacceptably high, the private sector has added jobs during four of the past five months, private investment is increasing, productivity growth is very high, the financial system is recovering, private savings have improved," said Geithner adding that the US economy is now borrowing significantly less from the rest of the world.

"We are also engaged in an important set of reforms to improve our private health care system, to strengthen our education system, to rebuild our infrastructure, to increase energy fficiency and reduce carbon emissions, to restore fiscal sustainability, and to fundamentally restructure and reform our financial system," said Geithner.

"India navigated this financial crisis with a steady hand, and has emerged from the global recession stronger and faster than most other large economies," he added.

Geithner further said that during the meeting Mukherjee and his colleagues outlined the opportunities and challenges ahead for the Indian economy, and the policy reforms they are undertaking to raise the rate of overall economic growth, and to extend the benefits of growth more broadly.

"India has a dynamic entrepreneurial private sector, a demonstrated ability to compete in the global market, and a commitment to quality higher education. With those strengths and the Minister's proposed reforms, India's economic growth, already impressive, will be even stronger in the future," said Geithner.

Geithner said the US and India both face some common problems, such as how to design a private financial system that can finance future innovation, how to extend financial services more broadly to people outside the banking system, and how to finance our very substantial infrastructure needs in ways that effectively leverage private investment.

"We also face the urgent challenge of making sure that the gains from economic growth in both of our countries are broadly shared. Economic growth must be about improving the prospects for all our citizens," he added.

The US Treasury Secretary thanking Mukherjee for providing details about the Indian economy said India has made remarkable progress and is an indispensable partner in securing the future prosperity and security of the world.

"US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recognize that, as two of the world's largest economies, we need to work more closely together," said Geithner.

"Our ability to cooperate on economic and financial issues will be critically important to the success of global efforts to create conditions for a more stable global financial system, more balanced global economic growth that is less dependent on the willingness of Americans to live beyond our means, more effective and representative international financial institutions, and a more open global trading system," he added.

Geithner, who arrived here along with Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, also met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh earlier in the day.

He is expected to discuss ways to rebalance the global economy.

The discussions will complement a strategic dialogue program that the United States shares with China, but will be more limited in scope, according to U.S. treasury officials.

The two sides are also expected to discuss infrastructure financing, with the Treasury offering expertise in helping India develop a municipal bond market, and India sharing experience in private-sector infrastructure development.

Before meeting Dr. Singh, Geithner visited a storefront mobile banking site on the outskirts of the national capital that is affiliated with Eko, a nonprofit organisation, and the State Bank of India.

The US Treasury Secretary said he wanted to show how India was coming up with creative solutions to its development problems.

On Wednesday, Geithner will hold a roundtable discussion with US financial companies and Indian entrepreneurs in Mumbai. (ANI)

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