On board Air India One: In the back drop of corporate and foreign investors being
miffed over the government suspending its decision on foreign
equity in multi-brand retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Saturday said his government will take up implementation of this
policy next year after consultations with opposition parties once
elections to various assemblies are over.
Manmohan Singh also said his government was committed to go moving
forward with economic reforms, which were initiated under his
stewardship as finance minister in the Congress government under
then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao between 1991 and 1996.
However, he blamed "political compulsions" for the government
taking such hard decisions to rollback or suspend policies.
"We have to evolve a broad-based consensus and we will work
towards that. It's my hope that once the elections to the various
state assemblies, which are in the offing, are over, all political
parties can sit together, and we will then explore with them the
possibilities of implementing the decision, which is placed on
hold," he said.
Manmohan Singh was interacting with media persons on board his
special aircraft while returning home from Moscow after attending
a summit meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Responding to the increasingly belligerent criticism of his
government over suspended key decision on economic reforms, he
said the UPA was "committed to reforms as ever", but blamed the
rollbacks and putting crucial decisions on hold to "political
"Our government stands committed to reforms as ever before. But
there is such a thing as political compulsion. Given the nature of
coalition... the fact that we, as the Congress party, do not have
a majority (in parliament), we have to move at a pace whereby all
our allies can be on the same page," he said.
"Therefore that certainly restricts our options. But we are
hopeful that some essential reform... we can still push through
after we have engaged our allies in a constructive, productive
dialogue," he said, adding that "there is no other way in which we
can move forward."
Manmohan Singh was also sure that captains of industry recognised,
as much as anybody else, what "the reality of political situation"
in India is.
On the global economic crisis and its impact on India, he said
there were "temporary setbacks".
"There are temporary setbacks. We cannot be oblivious to what is
happening in the world economy. The whole Eurozone crisis is
something, which has global impact everywhere," he said.
Noting that "everywhere, the growth impulses are taking a
beating", Manmohan Singh said he sincerely believed world economy
required "concerted efforts on part of all major powers to bring
back the rhythm of growth process."
"I still believe that even if the world does not revert to the
healthy growth path, in India, we have the ability and the will to
push for a growth rate of at least 8 percent per annum," he said.
Observing that India's savings rate was as high as 34 percent and
investment rate as high as 36.5 percent, the prime minister said
unlike many other developing countries, including China, Indian
economy was not that much dependent on international trade.
"Therefore, if we can increase investment in infrastructure, and
create adequate domestic demand for capital goods, we have the
ability to sustain a growth path of 8 percent and maybe of 9
percent in the next five years," he added.