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State beats Centre’s growth rate

Calcutta, March 20: Despite the economic downturn that marked the year 2002-03, West Bengal registered a 7.6 per cent growth in the state domestic product, said finance minister Asim Dasgupta while presenting the budget.

“The rate of growth of the gross domestic product of the country has come down to 4.4 per cent but the rate of growth of the state domestic product of West Bengal has shown, even in the midst of a financial crisis, a further rise to 7.6 per cent,” said Dasgupta.

The services sector contributed significantly in the state’s economic progress with a growth rate of 9.8 per cent during the year, followed by industry which grew by 5.8 per cent and agriculture and allied sector that registered a 4.9 per cent growth over last year.

Enthused by the state’s better showing in a difficult year and to meet the government’s objective of employment generation and poverty alleviation, the finance minister set an ambitious growth target of 8 per cent for the next year. He, however, made it clear that the government will have to play an important role in achieving the target.

“For this needed growth of output and services, there will be the connected requirement of improvement in infrastructure facilities, both general like irrigation, roads, power, marketing and social like education and health.”

The economist-turned-politician took credit not only for the state’s achievement in hitting a higher growth trajectory, but he quoted National Sample Survey figures to prove that the government had successfully taken the benefits of economic prosperity to the rural areas.

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