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Need to contain inflation, boost growth, says Arun Jaitley

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-06-2014 PTI

New Delhi: Attributing the present economic woes to a “decade of jobless growth”, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday underlined the need to contain price rise and hasten economic reforms to boost low-cost manufacturing.

“Reviving the growth momentum, containing inflation and altering the pattern of growth to gainful employment is today an overriding priority,” he said in his Facebook post summing up his one week in office.

India’s economic growth stayed below 5% for the second year in a row at 4.7% in 2013-14, mainly due to decline in manufacturing and mining output. Growth remained subdued at 4.6% in the fourth quarter of last year. “There is a need to boost domestic low-cost manufacturing and hasten the pace of reforms. Price stability and growth are intertwined but may require a different strategy. This will involve fiscal rectitude as a combination of monetary and fiscal policy,” he said. Many key economic reforms including increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector, implementation of Goods and Services Tax, and the Direct Taxes Code remained in limbo in the last United Progressive Alliance government.

Hinting at immediate measures to be taken to strengthen the economy, he said “short-term (fiscal) disciplining till we reverse the present trend will give us long-term benefits”. He emphasised that there is a need to move towards an era of fiscal discipline with objective to reduce fiscal deficit, contain inflation and improve growth rate.

“We must commit ourselves to this discipline so that in order to strengthen the Indian economy which can improve the quality of life of every Indian and pull out the deprived ones from the state of poverty,” he said.

Noting that the investment cycle has been disturbed, he said the manufacturing sector has had an abysmal performance last year. The negative sentiment has affected trade, hotels and transportation sectors which are posed for a slower growth compared to last year. “The slowdown in economic growth coupled with high inflationary pressure poses a challenge to the macro economic environment... India can ill afford this trend. This has serious social consequences since slowdown comes with a decade of jobless growth,” he said.

As per the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) estimates released in May, inflation continues to be rising with April figure at 8.9%.

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