New Delhi, Feb 22 (Calcutta Tube) President Pratibha Patil Monday kicked off the budget session of parliament on a positive note, saying the country not only faced the global financial crisis with strong policies but was also poised to grow at 7.5 percent this fiscal.
‘At a time when industrialised countries have experienced negative growth, India has continued to grow at an impressive rate,’ the president said in her customary speech in the central hall of parliament.
‘Economic growth, which had slowed to 6.7 percent in 2008-09, is likely to improve to 7.5 percent in 2010,’ she said, five days ahead of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s national budget for the ensuing fiscal.
‘We now look confidently to further improvement in our growth performance in 2010-11. My government will aim at a growth rate of above 8 percent in 2010-11 and seek to achieve 9 percent growth I 2011-12.’
During her 50-minute address, the president also listed a host of programmes, schemes and policies unveiled during the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and said inclusive growth remained the central focus.
She also spelt out some challenges faced in the past fiscal, and said although inflation remained a matter of concern, the price rise was inevitable given the shortfall of food production and the prevailing prices of rice, pulses, cereals and edible oils.
‘While we were able to avert any threat to food security, there has been an unhappy pressure on the prices of food grain and food products,’ she said.
‘Since assuming office in May 2009, my government has worked single-mindedly to build on the achievements of its earlier term to deliver the promise of faster and more inclusive growth.’
Listing the priorities of the government, the president said special attention will be paid to infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, education and health so that the growth process is adequately sensitive to the concerns of weaker sections.
Never before was India so close as it is today to realising the national aspirations as envisioned by the founding fathers, she said, adding: ‘Our country stands at a historic turning point.’