The 7 per cent annual growth was not adequate and Opposition parties should cooperate in improving the investment climate, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday.
Mr. Mukherjee, who was replying to a debate on inflation in the Lok Sabha, said he was keen to step up growth while tackling inflation, which was perilously close to double digits, though food prices showed a declining trend over the last seven weeks. “We have to bring inflation down to a sustainable position of 5 to 6 per cent.”
Dissatisfied with the Minister's reply, the National Democratic Alliance and Left parties staged a walkout. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the arguments given by the government were old and did not offer any relief to the common man.
Mr. Mukherjee said there was need to create confidence to encourage investment. “That can be done by allowing institutions to function. We can create that confidence despite divergence of views on issues.”
India, which was the fourth largest economy in the world, cannot remain oblivious to global developments. “When we discuss price rise, we have to keep in mind the state of the world economy... no country lives in isolation.”
Oil and commodity prices had gone up, impacting the price situation at home. Just when there were signs of recovery in a modest way after the global slowdown in 2008, the Euro zone crisis erupted and it was obstinately continuing. “We cannot ignore the adverse impact,” he pointed out.
Crisis in smaller countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, he said, would have implications for the rest of the world, including India, although the country's financial sector had no direct link with these countries.
Rejecting the Opposition allegation that nothing was done by the government to check price rise, he said food inflation had come down from 22 per cent in February, 2010 to 6.6 per cent in November.
Food production, because of the efforts of the government, had increased from 198 million tonnes in 2004-05 to 241.56 million tonnes now. He noted that price rise and inflation were discussed in the sessions of the current and previous Lok Sabha.
Mr. Mukherjee hit out at the Opposition for moving adjournment motions, arguing that everything should be done as per rules. If the Opposition was so insistent on adjournment motion, the rules should be changed. “Adjournment motions have their own rules, you change the rules, you are the masters.”Governments had always been reluctant to allow adjournment motions. If anybody wanted to throw out the government they should resort “straight to no-confidence motion.”
On the controversy over subsidies on petroleum goods, he said the issue could be discussed collectively. “Why don't we sit together and discuss? Parliament should collectively deal with the issue. Standing Committee can make suggestions.”
“If the international situation is conducive, we can have better confidence,” he said. He hoped that the declining trend of crude prices in international markets would continue without any fluctuation.