“The government must act wherever it can without the benefit of Parliamentary guidance”
Even as a string of much-delayed enabling reform measures remain pending owing to a “wasted session of Parliament,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday instructed his Cabinet colleagues to accelerate the decision-making process to tide over the major challenges on the economic front and guide its return to a high-growth path.
Expressing regret over a wasted session of Parliament as hardly any business could be transacted, Dr. Singh, in his ‘message to the nation’ said: “We have had one wasted session. I hope Parliament can get back to business in the next session… I am instructing all Ministries to accelerate their consideration of critical issues where decisions are needed to get the economy moving again.”
The government, Dr. Singh asserted, “must act wherever it can without the benefit of Parliamentary guidance.” Though not spelt out by the Prime Minister, the indication was clearly to certain reforms and measures pertaining to the well-being of the economy which will have to be taken to pave the way for a return to a higher growth trajectory.
Primary issues relate to the high fiscal deficit and ways of plugging the problem areas, especially when the threat of a sovereign rating downgrade by global agencies such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P) looms large in the absence of any definite measures aimed at correcting the economic ills.
The country, Dr. Singh said, was facing “major challenges” on the economic front. “We must work hard to ensure that the Indian economy returns to high growth. I have no doubt we can do it…We can rebuild our growth momentum and encourage entrepreneurship by stimulating investment in infrastructure, in power, in roads, ports, railways and telecommunications,” he said, pointing to the sectors that need focussed attention when he had taken over the reins of the Finance Ministry.
‘On road to recovery’
Noting that these steps were essential for the good of the country by way of ensuring that the government meant business, the Prime Minister said: “This will send a clear signal to the world that India is on the road to recovery. This, in turn, will bring back the momentum of growth, generate productive employment and also enable us to direct more resources to help the poor and weaker sections.”
Lamenting that precious time had been wasted in disrupting smooth functioning of Parliament, Dr. Singh said it would be difficult to achieve higher growth if the government is constantly distracted by “actions of those who prefer obstruction over discussion” and went on to point out that those who follow an obstructionist policy, “unwittingly [are] only serving the ends of those who want to weaken the country and discredit its institutions.”
Dr. Singh maintained that his government’s priority would be to grapple with the problems of mass poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of citizens. “We will not be distracted from this task,” he said.
Major legislations pertaining to banking, pension and insurance were pending approval during the session that has come to an end and seeing these through would have gone a long way in improving the economic and investment climate, Dr. Singh said.