PM for rationalising food, fertiliser

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New Delhi, Nov 8 (UNI) Announcing a 4.1 per cent hike in the Centre's and States Budgetary resources to the Eleventh Plan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today warned of threat to India's food security and called for rationalisation of food, fertiliser and petroleum subsides.

''The size of the Central Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) involves a substantial increase over the Tenth Plan. The size of the GBS in the Eleventh Plan is pegged at Rs 1.4 lakh crore, which is almost double that of the previous Plan. As a share of GDP total plan resources at the Centre and State levels moves from around 9.4 per cent to 13.5 per cent,'' Dr Singh said in his remarks to the meeting of the Full Planning Commission here.

The Prime Miister, however, said these large increases will only be possible if there was strong economic growth, if tax revenues remain buoyant as they have been in recent years and if non-plan expenditure is checked.

Dr Singh said it was necessary to address the problem of mounting subsidies in food, fertilisers and now in petroleum, which is a recent phenomenon. More than Rs one lakh crore are to be spent this year alone on these items.

''It is important that we restructure subsidies so that only the really needy and the poor benefit from them and all leakages are stopped,'' he said.

''I would like to also point out that I foresee the next decade as one in which our food security will be under stress. Global trends in food production and prices and our own demand patterns of consumption are going to put pressure on both the availabilty and prices of basic food items,'' he said.

To check this, it was essential to ensure that the agricultural sector performs well but also that food planning adjusts to the emergining market realities.

The Prime Minister said it was remarkable growth in the last three years and the efforts put in by the Finance Ministry to gather more revenues that have enabled the huge expansion of outlays on rural employment, Bharat Nirman, agriculture, health and education.

''Of course, the growth cannot be restricted to isolated pockets or to certain sections of society. We need it to be far more broadbased,'' he said.

In this context, Dr Singh said it was necessary to ensure that delivery services of programmes for the empowerment of the poorer sctions of society need to be made effective and made free of leakages.

Making growth inclusive, the Prime Minister said, will entail revival of agriculture, full encouragemet to the manufacturing sector with special emphasis on expansion of industrial enterprises of all sizes and a strong effort in promoting programmes that deliver essential services to the commonman and provide livelihood support.

The Prime Minister also suggested better and more efficient spending on areas where allocations have been hiked.

Describing education as the ''most favoured'' sector, Dr Singh noted that the outay on this sector has been hiked from 7.68 per cent of the Central GBS in the Tenth Plan to more than 19 per cent in the Eleventh Plan.

''I would like to emphasise that this investent weill pay off with a time lag--but it will pay off handsomely,'' he said.

''The 6,000 model schools in al Bocks, the 30 new Central Universities, the 370 new colleges in educationally backward districts and huge expansion in the number of IITs, IIMs and IISERs and the planned universalistaion of secondary education are all going to bear fruit only if the Central and State governments work purposefully to see that outcomes match outlays,'' Dr Singh said.

He said the pursuit of quality in institutions of higher education requires reforms.

''The issue is no longer one of resources, it is of planning, management and delivery capability,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said while there may be a decline in the budgetary support to infrastructure, the reliance will be much greater on non-budgetary support. Public sector investment in infrastructure will increase substantially based on increasae in Internal or Extra Budgetary Resources(IEBR) in the public sector.

Besides, a large public investment is also panned through the PPP mode.

Dr singh said the development focus of the UPA government was firmly on marginalised sections and regions without sacrificing enterprise and growth.


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