Admitting government’s failure to contain inflation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said high prices have helped farmers and asserted the country was heading for better times.
"...we have also not been as successful in controlling persistent inflation as we would have wished. This is primarily because food inflation has increased. However, we should remember that our inclusive policies have put more money in the hands of the weaker sections," Dr. Singh said while addressing a press conference, the third as Prime Minister.
The worry about inflation, he added, “is legitimate but we should also recognise that incomes for most people have increased faster than inflation.”
While making a case for increasing supplies and improving marketing and logistics to contain food prices, especially of perishables like fruits and vegetables, he stressed “much of this work lies in the domain of the states.”
As regards the growth, which has slipped to decade’s low of 5 per cent in 2012—13, the Prime Minister attributed the slowdown to global factors but exuded confidence that the growth momentum would revive in the coming years.
“We are set for better times. The cycle of global economic growth is turning for the better. Many of the steps we have taken to address our domestic constraints are coming into play. India’s own growth momentum will revive”, he added.
He said that during the term of UPA, India for the first time in its recorded history, witnessed a sudden acceleration of economic growth to 9 per cent.
“This exceptional performance was followed by a slowdown initiated by the global financial crisis. Over the past couple of years, all emerging economies have experienced a slowdown. India was no exception”, he added.
Dr. Singh further added that it was not just the acceleration of growth that “gives me satisfaction. Equally important is the fact that we made the growth process more socially inclusive than it has ever been.”
Expressing the government’s commitment to economic reforms, Prime Minister said “so long as we are in power we will continue to push for reforms...our government attaches highest priority to reforms.
"...we will continue to implement our policies, with vigour and commitment, aiming to revive growth, promote enterprise, generate employment, eliminate poverty and ensure the safety and security of all our people, particularly women and children.”
India, he further said, “provides a hospitable environment for foreign direct investment (FDI). We will continue to improve our practises wherever needed.”
Observing that over the past decade economy has gone through many ups and downs, Singh said, “we should not focus overly on the short term.”
Citing the achievements of the government, Singh said that in 2004 it tried to give “a New Deal for Rural India” and pursued farmer friendly policies including raising support prices, expanding credit to farmers, and increasing investment in horticulture, rural development, and rural infrastructure, especially roads and electricity.
He further said that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has assured agricultural labour of a floor and has increased their bargaining power, besides improving delivery of health and education services.
Because of the policies pursued by the government, he said, percentage of the population below the poverty line has fallen much faster in the period 2004-2011 than it did in the previous ten year period and that the number of people below the poverty line has come down by 13.8 crore.