New Delhi: Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said that the steps the
government had taken recently on the economic front were "only the
beginning of a process to revive the economy."
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian
Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the prime minister said
the moves would aid taking the economy back to "its trend growth
rate of eight to nine percent".
"Some of the decisions we have taken were politically difficult
and naysayers and cynics have tried to halt us in our tracks,"
Manmohan Singh said.
Taking a dig at the opposition, ranging from the BJP to Left
parties, the prime minister said: "Those who oppose these moves
are either ignorant of global realities or constrained by
In the face of stiff opposition from political parties wedded to
divergent political leanings, the prime minister said that his
government "had the courage of conviction and the interests of our
people at heart" in going ahead with measures to revive the
"Our government has acted to reverse the cycle of negative
expectations and stimulate investment", Singh said.
He said that the rate at which poverty has declined in recent
times was commendable: "Despite the challenges we continue to
face, we must recognize that poverty has declined at a pace never
seen in the past 200 years," he said.
The nation can ill afford disparities in basic facilities such as
health, education, drinking water, electricity, and even banking,
the prime minister said.
"Years of high growth enabled us to generate resources that have
been deployed to improve the well-being of our people. More needs
to be done", he said
The drive is to transfer government benefits directly to the bank
accounts of individual beneficiaries, the prime minister said,
adding that direct cash transfers should be seen in that context.
"Our government has taken a series of measures aimed at reviving
investor sentiment, controlling the fiscal deficit and improving
infrastructure", the prime minister said, adding that there was
need to step up investment and savings rates.
"Even as we make our growth process inclusive, we cannot lower our
guard in pursuing policies that restore growth momentum to the
economy.", the prime minister said, adding that broadening the
social base of development improves well-being and also widens the
home market for business.