India remains firmly on a high GDP growth path of 8.5-9 %, says Pranab

Even as the economy is going through a phase of high inflation and sluggish growth, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday expressed confidence that India would maintain and was firmly on the high growth trajectory of 8.5-9 per cent in the medium- to long-term.

Addressing delegates at the ADB-India partnership silver jubilee function here, Mr. Mukherjee said: “In the medium- to long-term, India remains firmly on a high GDP growth path of 8.5-9 per cent. We, however, need to be alert and respond to emerging challenges and concern, in a timely manner as we make efforts to achieve our potential as a young and fast-growing nation”.

Price volatility

Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that for India, like many other countries, food security and volatility in prices have been a matter of concern and that the solution to these problems lay in increased production. “We recognise that the increase in agriculture production on a sustainable basis is a long-term solution to the problems of availability as well as high and fluctuating food and commodity prices,” he said.

The ADB, Mr. Mukherjee said, should focus on issues that help in linking farms to markets and promote research activities and efforts in improving productivity of dry-land farming, efficient use of water, rain-fed irrigation, development of drought-resistant varieties of seeds and other similar concerns. “Both intellectual and innovative physical efforts are needed to give a new meaning to the concept of sustainable development. We look forward to drawing on ADB's vast experience and expertise for implementing projects that contribute to a more efficient use of water and other natural resources,” he said.

Mr. Mukherjee stressed that for sustaining the growth momentum and enhancing productivity, development of the country's infrastructure sector was of critical importance. “The XII Plan (2012-17) has an ambitious target of infrastructure investment estimated at $1 trillion,” he said and highlighted the role that the ADB had played in this regard by way of valuable and technical assistance in public-private partnership for development of the sector. “We need to further step-up the momentum of our collaboration in this important area, considering the huge investment needs of the sector,” he said.

Clean energy

Mr. Mukherjee also sought greater help from the multilateral lending agency as achievement of an inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth would require the support of alternate and renewable energy sources. “We hope ADB's assistance in developing clean and alternative sources of energy and technology to expand energy efficiency measures on all fronts would be scaled up,” he said.

Turning to development of the Asian region as a whole, Mr. Mukherjee said that despite sustained high growth, Asia was not on an “autopilot mode” and would require careful steering and direction. Policymakers, he said, have the “onerous responsibility of shaping the path to make the Asian Century a reality” as the “opportunities are immense and the challenges formidable”.

While achieving broad-based, inclusive and sustained growth was of paramount importance, equally important was the need for sustaining high growth, he said. “For this, it is vital for Asian economies to successfully transform their growth from being resource-driven to high-skill and productivity-driven,” he said.

Mr. Mukherjee exhorted the ADB to take up South-South cooperation as a priority and become a vehicle for countries to share their experiences on inclusive growth and poverty alleviation. “India stands ready to help and partner the ADB on its vision of achieving a hunger and poverty-free Asia and to make available to others in Asia its experience in nation building,” he said.

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