Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday expressed the hope that the country’s growth during the current fiscal year would be over 6 per cent, up from 5 per cent in 2012-13. But, he said, he wanted the 2004-08 trend to return with the rate touching 9 per cent.

Addressing a press conference with Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here, Mr. Chidambaram said the increase in growth was moderate because of the slowdown in the economy of developed nations. “The [average] growth rate of developed countries is 2 per cent, while the European countries are in recession. Japan is nowhere near achieving the revival of growth. The U.S. economy is growing only at 1.8 per cent.”

Despite the global crisis, “we controlled the fiscal deficit at 4.9 per cent last year. It is likely to come down to 4.8 per cent this year and below 3 per cent within the next couple of years.”

Terming the food security ordinance a historic initiative, Mr. Chidambaram rejected the Opposition charge that Parliament was being bypassed. “For being enacted [as law], it will go to Parliament and debated. I hope all the members will vote for it.”

Mr. Chidambaram said the Real Estate Regulator and Land Acquisition Bills would be introduced in the monsoon session beginning next month. Amendments to the Direct Taxes Code Bill, aimed at overhauling the income tax law, would be introduced towards the end of the session.

As for goods and services tax, he said one or two States were opposing it. The Empowered Committee of the State Finance Ministers would complete its work before the GST Bill was drafted.

‘Limit gold purchase’

Mr. Chidambaram said gold imports were costing the nation $50 billion in foreign exchange and called on the people to “moderate the demand.”

“We cannot ban the import of gold. But if a person wants to buy, say 20 grams, can he not limit his requirement to 10 grams?”

Asked about the Supreme Court’s judgment on disqualification of convicted legislators, he said the government was consulting all political parties as well as the Attorney-General and jurists as there were legal issues in interpretation of Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act. “There was a judgment [earlier] by a five-judge Bench. The latest verdict by a two-judge Bench says the Section is unconstitutional.” No decision had been taken on moving a larger Bench for a review of judgment.


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