Even as Food Inflation hit new highs, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced that the Government will pass the Right to Food Act. The Act, he said, is a culmination of Congress initiatives like 'grow more food’ and ‘garibi hatao’.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday that the government will pass the Right to Food Act to promote inclusive growth, a concept that has been pursued by the Congress since Independence.

“We are going to pass the Right to Food Act,” the Minister said while speaking at the Economic Times Award-2009 function here.

Pointing out that inclusive growth had always been on the agenda of the Congress, Mr. Mukherjee recalled that earlier slogans like ‘grow more food’ and ‘garibi hatao’ were aimed at achieving the same objective.

The Congress in its manifesto for 2009 general elections promised to enact Right to Food law to provide 25 kg of rice or wheat at Rs 3 per kg every month to families living below poverty line.

The UPA government, he added, had passed the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and Right to Education Act to provide jobs and education to people through legislations.

The Minister, however, emphasised that to make growth all encompassing the country would have to produce more food and industry more manufactured goods.

Mr. Mukherjee said the rapid economic growth since liberalisation has led to rise in tax-GDP ratio. It was only because of the high ratio that former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram managed to provide Rs 71,000 crore debt relief to farmers.

“As Finance Minister about a quarter century ago I could not give 1,000 rupees relief to farmers, ecause I did not have the capacity,” Mr. Mukherjee said, pointing out that tax-GDP ratio has now increased from 8-10 per cent to 12-13 per cent.

The Minister further said with the implementation of the programmes of the government it would be able to achieve the goals of inclusive growth.

Recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s advice that policies should be framed with a view to helping the poor, Mr. Mukherjee said, that was nothing but promoting inclusive growth.

The concept of inclusive growth was not new though the nomenclature to describe it has changed over the years, he said, adding, “from the beginning of our development, we accepted some sort of concept of inclusive growth.”

More In: National | News | Business