Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said the government was taking all possible steps to counter rising food prices and added that he was confident India’s economic growth would exceed 8 per cent in the next fiscal.

Noting that the government has been concerned over high food prices over the last one year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said all practical measures would be taken to provide relief to people.

Replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha, he said the government was working to overcome the twin-impact of failure of monsoons and global economic crisis with an objective of reaching the double-digit growth.

He said India will end the current financial year with GDP growth of 7.2 to 7.5 per cent while exuding confidence of achieving eight per cent in the next fiscal (2010-11) and return to nine per cent in subsequent year.

“I am confident that economic fundamentals are strong. If we manage our economy well, if we manage creation of social infrastructure well, there is no barrier to India’s entry in the age of double digit growth,” Singh said in his 55-minute speech.

Responding to concerns expressed by members over rising food prices, he said the government has been equally concerned over the “behaviour of food prices” over the last one year.

He said certain steps have been taken to address the situation and the government was ready to take “any practical” measure that would give relief to people.

The food inflation had touched a decade high of 19.7 per cent in December last year before moderating marginally to about 17 per cent in the recent weeks.

Impact of global crisis

The global economic crisis, that affected virtually every nation, and failure of monsoon here last year were among major reasons for the shortage of essential commodities that contributed to high food prices.

Dr. Singh, however, said the way India dealt with the impact of the global economic crisis and failure of the South-West monsoon was praise worthy.

On the prices of sugar which had touched almost Rs 50 a kg, the Prime Minister said prices have been rising due to three-year crop cycle. “We will explore ways and means to check sugar prices,” he added.

Even as the agriculture sector is estimated to register negative growth of two per cent this fiscal mainly because of drought in most parts of the nation, Singh said during the UPA government regime the declining trend has been reversed due to pro-farmer policies.

Agriculture has grown at rate of 4 per cent from 2005 as against 2 per cent from 1997 to 2002.

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