Faced with the impact of the global downturn as well as drought, the government said on Tuesday it would take "longer time" for the country to achieve the 9 per cent growth as witnessed before the financial crisis hit the world in September 2008.

"To achieve 9 per cent growth (it) will require little longer time," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, participating in a function organised by a private TV channel.

Mr. Mukherjee said this fiscal "we will have 6 per cent plus growth... Whether that will be 6.5 or 6.2 per cent I cannot say. To achieve 7 to 8 per cent, (it) will be possible in the short term."

Promising to continue reforms in various sectors of the economy, the minister said, "the process (which) began in the early 90s will continue in the right earnest so that the economy is back on the path of 9 per cent growth at the earliest."

Having grown by 9 per cent during the three years ending March 2008, India's growth rate slipped to 6.7 per cent during 2008-09, mainly on account of the impact of the global financial crisis.

With 246 districts out of a total of about 600 facing drought, the growth rate is estimated to decelerate further to little over 6 per cent. The Reserve Bank of India in its first quarterly review of the credit policy projected 6 per cent growth rate for the current fiscal with upward bias.

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