The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Triple tonic to spur growth

New Delhi, Jan. 3: Union finance minister Jaswant Singh, who turned 65 today, set the economic agenda for the new year by laying emphasis on disinvestment, linking fiscal and monetary incentives to boost productivity and calling for greater public-private sector partnership.

Speaking at the All-India Conference of Chartered Accountants, organised by ICAI, Singh said: “The government should withdraw from sectors where private participation is more productive and more efficient. The scope of government remains largely in social and infrastructure sectors for it is the ultimate risk taker.”

Singh said that there is a re-orientation of both public and private policies. “The basic job of the government in the process gets re-oriented to create an enabling environment for public-private partnership.” There is a need to streamline public investment and social welfare programmes, he added.

The finance minister also said, “Genuine reform depends on a combination of market forces, the formal rules that companies dislike and the self-regulation they prefer.”

He said that the country cannot implement reforms in the absence of strong regulatory mechanisms. “The freer the market, the stronger should be the regulatory mechanism.”

Singh also pointed out the need for redefining the government and the regulator’s role for this purpose.

He also highlighted the importance of better co-ordination, co-operation and partnership between private and public sectors. “A well-governed state and orderly functioning of markets are essential for high growth and sustainability.”

The finance minister said market failures have to be repaired and institutional structure and legal systems strengthened by improving corporate governance. Addressing the chartered accountants, the minister said, “CAs need to perform their jobs without any fear or pressures. They have to be more transparent in accounting practices.”

“The recent financial problems in US companies like Enron and others indicate that there is enough scope for improvement in the professional integrity and the system of accounting,” said Singh.

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