Today's Paper

Disinvestment of PSUs has to continue: PM

The Prime Minister and Planning Commission Chairman, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, K.C. Pant, at a meeting on 10th Five-Year Plan in New Delhi on Saturday. The Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, and the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, are also seen. — Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

The Prime Minister and Planning Commission Chairman, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, K.C. Pant, at a meeting on 10th Five-Year Plan in New Delhi on Saturday. The Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, and the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, are also seen. — Photo: Shanker Chakravarty  

NEW DELHI OCT. 5. A full meeting of the Planning Commission today provided another opportunity for the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to emphasise the need to "actively pursue disinvestment of our public sector units (PSUs)'' and to allay all apprehensions about the role of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Chairing the meeting of the full Planning Commission — which unanimously approved the draft Tenth Five-Year Plan aiming for an eight per cent economic growth during 2002 to 2007 — Mr. Vajpayee alluded to the controversy over economic issues, especially disinvestment of PSUs and FDI limits. "There is much debate these days on the content and direction of India's development, as also the policies and strategies that we should follow to realise our developmental goals. This is natural in a democracy; it is even desirable provided the debate is conducted in a constructive manner with a desire to promote consensus,'' the Prime Minister said.

In another reference to some critics of the Government calling for rejecting foreign-dominated development models, Mr. Vajpayee said that planning in India was not a static concept and was not enslaved by dogma. "It has to respond to the changing developmental needs of the nation. It has to take into account the dominant new trends in the national and global economies.''

India had no choice but to achieve the high growth rate stipulated in the draft Tenth Plan, the Prime Minister said and listed out the difficult decisions which "simply cannot be avoided.'' These included acceleration of tax reforms and movement towards an integrated Central and State Value Added Tax (VAT) for goods and services; fiscal prudence with all attendant measures, both at the Central and State levels; the squeezing of maximum efficiency and productivity from every rupee of investment already made; removal of bottlenecks in energy, transport and water infrastructure; widespread reforms in governance and, finally, active association of the States in all the "daunting tasks that are to be accomplished.''

On FDI, Mr. Vajpayee said that "we have to achieve our developmental goals by our own efforts and primarily by harnessing our own resources. The draft Plan makes it very clear that the bulk of the vastly higher level of savings and investments needed to achieve the eight per cent growth would have to come from domestic resources. However, we need greater inflow of FDI to supplement our domestic resources, in areas where it would strengthen our economy and enhance our competitiveness.... But let there be no worry in any quarter that we would follow such an FDI policy as would weaken Indian industry or hurt our national interests. This will never happen.''

8 per cent growth must

The Prime Minister also referred to the scepticism in certain quarters about the possibility of achieving an eight per cent growth over the next five years.

"I am, of course, aware of the scepticism in some quarters: Is it at all feasible for us to climb from a rate of growth of 5.5 per cent last year to eight per cent in the Tenth Plan? It is when the climb is steep that a good mountaineer musters his hidden strength and determination. Similarly, our nation has to prepare itself for the big challenges ahead of us. Moreover, we have no choice. The issue before us is not whether we can achieve a significantly higher growth rate; rather, it is whether we can afford not to.''

Recommended for you