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India's economic reforms well on track: Montek

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Jul 7 (UNI) Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today maintained that India's economic reforms were "well on track" despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday putting on hold all proposals for offloading the Centre's stake in public sector undertakings (PSUs).

"The progress of reforms in India should not be judged by whether the government can push through divestment or not," the Deputy Chairman told English news channel CNN-IBN here today.

He said divestment is not the core of economic reforms as the reforms agenda encompasses agriculture, public investment, infrastructure and the social sector.

Dr Ahluwalia was of the view that disinvestment would be relevant when it comes to mobilising resources but if the Finance Ministry can generate the necessary funds without selling stake in government entreprises, then divestment would not be necessary.

On the issue of whether the Prime Minister's economic reforms agenda is being influenced by opposition from the United Progressive Alliance government's allies and the Left, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman said the economic reforms is no secret.

In a political scene dominated by coalition politics, it was only understandable that there would not be consensus on all issues.

He said,"The Planning Commssion has made over 250 recommendations in its mid-term appraisal of the current plan and most of these would find support from all sections of the political spectrum." Allowing FDI in retail and amending Indian labour laws were among the more sensitive proposals in the mid-term review.

However, he made it clear that "out of the box" thinking was needed to get to and sustain the 8.5 per cent growth mark.

Suggestions made by the Planning Commission usually cover a range of views and some of them could be controversial -- and this is exactly what is required of the plan body.

"If the Planning Commission did not discuss issues that were considered controversial, we wouldn't be adding value.

And then the Planning Commission would not be required," he added.

UNI SD DKS HT1818

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