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Sustain rate of growth: Chidambaram

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Sushma Ramchandran

Stresses need for investments in infrastructure, farm sectors

Agriculture key to growth with equity Manufacturing sector has tremendous potential to create employment

New Delhi: Investments in infrastructure, agriculture and social sector may have to be stepped up, as Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has made a New Year wish for sustaining over seven per cent economic growth in 2006. Describing India as a "potential economic powerhouse," he said the only way to make growth more inclusive was to sustain the rate in excess of seven per cent over the next year. "And I am confident that the year 2006 will continue the trend."

In a New Year message, he said that last year the country received significant international recognition as a potential global economic powerhouse. "I hope that in 2006, India will make substantial progress towards realising that potential."

Mr. Chidambaram was speaking in the backdrop of a soaring Sensex, buoyant export growth and improved performance of the manufacturing sector. He warned, however, that to sustain the high growth, investment would have to be stepped up, particularly in infrastructure, agriculture and social sector.

Noting that the UPA was committed to increasing public investment and flow of credit to the farm sector, he said the key to addressing growth with equity in this country was agriculture. He felt the manufacturing sector was another area with tremendous potential to create employment. He pointed out that India had a competitive advantage in certain areas of manufacturing and services including automobiles, auto components, gems and jewellery, pharmaceutical, Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing sector. "In 2006, I look forward to greater investment taking place, both domestic and FDI, in all these sectors," he said.

The Finance Minister said that considerable groundwork had been done to carry forward the reform agenda with a human face. He expressed confidence that this hard work would bear fruit in the New Year.

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