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Govt in no hurry to cut bank stake

Mumbai, April 3: Finance minister Jaswant Singh says no time-frame has been set for a further reduction in the stake that the government holds in nationalised banks.

Singh, delivering the keynote address at CII’s Banking Summit 2003 here today, said the standing committee on finance is debating the issue. “Unless its opinion is known, I cannot lay out a time-frame,” he said. The government has long considered a cut to 33 per cent.

Singh was upbeat on the growth prospect, saying the economy was fighting fit despite the worst-ever drought and the Iraq war. Contrary to fears voiced by the prophets of gloom, the rate of increase now is unprecedented.

Backing Singh was leading industrialist Anand Mahindra, who cited the strong growth in non-agricultural credit to argue that all was fine with the economy. Singh, on his part, said the automobile sector is showing a sales spike of around 35 per cent. “There is growth bubbling underneath,” the minister added.

He predicted a fall in crude prices, and pointed to a favourable outlook for farm output from the ministry of agriculture to back up his case of a resilient economy.

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