Govt to push reforms programme to raise growth rate

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the foremost priority of his government would be to push forward the reforms programme even as it keeps open the possibility of raising the growth rate to 9.2 per cent in the 12th Plan (2012-17).

“It is our hope that we should generate a broad climate in which all political parties can unite to push forward an agenda which is in broad national interest. That will be our priority number one, to push the reform process forward,” he told reporters after a meeting of the full Planning Commission.

Pointing out that the second generation reforms are difficult, Singh said they require a broad-based national consensus.

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“In many cases they involve legislative action and we do not have… the type of majority which is necessary to put in place, for example the Goods and Services Tax. We want financial sector reforms, like insurance sector reforms,” he said.

Singh added that the lack of an effective national consensus on certain issues is a problem and “therefore the effort has to be to create a climate of opinion whereby all political parties would unite in national interest to push forward the reforms agenda”.

Noting that there was a lot of opposition to the reforms when they were launched in 1991, the Prime Minister said, “Subsequently, we have had the governments of the Right and the Left at the Centre. In the last 20 years, broadly they have all kept to the path which was outlined by us in 1991-95.”

Although the Approach Paper, which was approved by the Plan Panel, pegged the growth rate for the 12th Plan at 9 per cent, Singh said it is possible that the Plan panel may raise it to 9.2 per cent.

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