PM for Overall Economic Assessment

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the global recession, which, in addition to entirely capitalist economies of Europe and the US, had a bearing on India as well, is drawing to a close with slow return to normalcy.

“We have been through a difficult year because of the global economic downturn which is only now coming to end with a slow return to normalcy in the months that lie ahead,” Singh said.

These were prime minister’s opening remarks in a meeting of the full Planning Commission, which he presided over. The meeting was intended to assess the economy and status of Integrated Energy Policy (IEP).

“The country has also seen poor monsoon,” he said.

Singh added that it would be useful for the Planning Commission to present its assessment of the overall economic situation.

The first meeting of the full Planning Commission in the UPA’s second term is being attended by than a dozen ministers including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Home Minister P Chidambaram, in addition to commission’s Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

In the wake of global economic downturn, India’s economic growth came down  from about 9 % in 2007-08 to 6.7 % in current fiscal year. According to the commission, the growth is likely to fall further to 6.3 % in 2009-10.

Singh stressed that the review of the economy is essential not only from the view point of this being UPA’s second term but from this being the mid-point of the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12).

Singh also underlined the need for rational energy policies saying “energy is vital for our economic growth and this is the area where we are a deficit economy. We import over 70 per cent of our petroleum energy needs and are also moving to a deficit position in coal”.

Rational energy policies, he added, were also critical for rational responses to the threat of climate change. “This is a new compulsion and we need to asses whether we are on track in critical aspects of our energy policies,” he said.

Noting asymmetry in energy policies as different segments fall under different ministries, Singh said, “IEP, approved by the Cabinet in December 2008 contained a number of recommendations covering different sub-sectors. It would be useful for the Planning Commission to present an assessment on how these recommendations have been implemented.”

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