With the Union Budget only a fortnight away, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday called for stepping up economic growth rate to 9-10 per cent to promote industrialisation and remove unemployment.
“The only way forward for this country is to register a growth rate of 9-10 per cent... for solving the unemployment problem, industrialisation is a must,” he said after giving Prime Minister’s trophy for best steel plants in the country.
The Prime Minister’s remarks assume significance as they come ahead of the Budget for 2010-11 to be unveiled by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on February 26.
Besides addressing the problem of inflation, the Budget is expected to lay down the roadmap for accelerating growth, which slipped from over 9 per cent to 6.7 per cent during 2008-09 owing to the impact of the global financial meltdown.
Driven by robust performance of the manufacturing sector, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is a measure of economic activity, is projected to grow by 7.2 per cent during the current fiscal.
While giving away awards to RINL’s Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant, Mr. Singh underlined the need for increasing steel output to meet the growing demand.
India’s per annum per capita steel consumption, Mr. Singh said, was very low at 46 kg as against the global average of 190 kg.
While asking the steel makers to step up output, the Prime Minister said the industry should also adopt green technology to reduce carbon emissions.
“India has to move towards a low carbon economy,” Mr. Singh said, adding he had already asked the Planning Commission to work out a strategy to reduce carbon emissions.
The country, he said, was pursuing a national action plan on climate change and steel industry could “play a vital role in our evolution towards our movement towards a low carbon economy.”
On the importance of steel, Singh said it is a major driver for the construction industry which accounts for 50 per cent of investment in the economy.
“Construction is nothing but steel and cement...,” he said.
On the occasion, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh said the domestic steel consumption witnessed a growth of about 8 per cent in the first 10 months of the current fiscal and is likely to grow at 10 per cent in next 2-3 years.
To meet growing demand the country is expanding its annual steel production capacity to 120 million tonnes by 2011-12 from about 65 million tonnes at present.
“About 30 million tonnes of brownfield capacity would come up in next three years,” he added. New projects with an annual production capacity of 26.22 million tonnes are also expected to come up during the same time frame.