While raising further the expected GDP growth rate to about 8 per cent, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the question of withdrawal of the stimulus packages would have to wait till the presentation of the next budget in February.
Mr. Mukherjee was addressing the annual session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce here. On the basis of the growth registered in the second quarter, the Finance Minister was confident that the next two quarters would be more buoyant and the GDP was expected to grow in the range of 7.5 to 8 per cent in the current financial year.
Mr. Mukherjee was equally positive of India being close to achieving the dream of growing at a pace of 9 to 10 per cent within the next 2-3 years, pointing out that the country was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The objective of the government was to achieve this high growth rate with the priority of making it more inclusive and widespread.
One of the areas of immediate concern is the drop in growth in the agriculture sector on account of poor rains and floods, but Mr. Mukherjee stressed that this negative impact would be tempered by the improved performance of industry and services and manufacturing sectors.
For balanced growth, Mr. Mukherjee underlined the need for agriculture to grow at 4 per cent at least. The government had taken measures and these were paying off, he added.
Outlining the challenges ahead, the Finance Minister said the government was seized of the problem of price rise and fiscal consolidation. The other commitments were to generate resources and improve the delivery mechanism.
Aiming for sustained and all inclusive growth, the UPA government’s thrust was on improving the standard of living of the people and develop human resources by taking care of their health and sanitation facilities and the education system. Mr. Mukherjee also stressed on reorienting vocational education. Referring to the Direct Tax Code, Mr. Mukherjee said there were nine areas of concern and he would address these with an open mind after inviting opinion from all quarters. The aim of the government was to simply the structure, make it user-friendly, widen the tax base and ensure compliance. He said that considerable progress had been made in finalising the Goods and Services Tax (GST).