Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with commerce minister Kamal Nath (second from right), finance minister P. Chidambaram (extreme right) and others in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Dec. 18: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government was committed to doing whatever was necessary to ensure that the economy maintained a 9 per cent growth rate even if there was a global slowdown.
Our policy must be tuned to sustain a 9 per cent growth even if world growth slows down and global food and fuel prices continue to maintain pressure, Singh said at a meeting of the Prime Ministers council on trade and industry.
India should have ambition and courage to sustain the current acceleration of growth no matter what happens globally, he said.
While we must remain alert to global trends, we must recognise that the world is looking at India as a new engine of growth. If our economy continues to grow despite a global slowdown, we will be able to lift millions of our people from poverty and generate employment for our youth, he added.
Finance minister P. Chidambaram, commerce minister Kamal Nath, C. Rangarajan, chairman of the economic advisory council, and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia were among those who attended the meeting. Industry leaders Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Rahul Bajaj, Deepak Parekh and Sunil Bharti Mittal were also present.
The meeting discussed economic trends and the impact of a possible global slowdown on the Indian economy.
According to a statement issued by Sanjay Baru, media adviser to the Prime Minister, the participants emphasised the need for major reforms and expansion of Indian education. They also sought policy framework to attract more private investment in education and facilitate greater public-private partnership in the sector, he said.
Singh said expenditure on education is being increased from 7 per cent of total plan outlay in the 10th Plan to 19 per cent in the 11th Plan.
The meeting also discussed the adverse impact of the strengthening rupee on exporters and the rising inflow of foreign funds.
Kamal Nath said effective steps would be taken soon to address the problem of the rising rupee without impacting inflation and interest rates.
We are hit by a double barrel of rupee appreciation and continuous dollar inflows... It is a problem not only for exports but also the entire industry, Nath said.
According to Nath, the government is looking at measures to counter the impact of the rising rupee.
He expects the merchandise export target of $160 billion for the current fiscal to be met, particularly on labour-intensive sectors. The Indian currency has risen more than 12 per cent against the dollar in 2007, eroding margins of goods and services exporters.