New Delhi: Striking an optimistic note, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday exuded confidence that the economic slowdown will not continue and the country will bounce back to the growth rate of 7 to 8 percent in next two to three years.
Singh said the government is determined to give a push to the economy as he rejected the Opposition charge over mishandling of the situation and making a mess of it.
Replying to the debate in Rajya Sabha on Motion of Thanks to President's Address, Singh tore into BJP's claim that NDA government had performed better and cited figures in various sectors to show the country had grown much faster during the nine years of UPA rule.
"The Leader of Opposition is right in saying that India needs growth rate of .... He is also right when he said it will require rapid pace of industrialisation. I would like to remind this House this is precisely the intent of UPA government," he said.
Sharing members' concern over the slowdown of economy during the current fiscal, Singh said, "As the Finance Minister said we do not believe growth rate will stay where it is today. We will use all our policies to push up growth rate. We hope and it is our confidence that in two to three years economy will bounce back to high growth of 7 to 8 percent."
Urging the Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley to be objective and respectful in assessing UPA's performance instead of saying "we have made a mess of it", Singh said the growth rate which was 6.6 per cent in 1998-99 and 7.6 percent in 1999-00, dipped to 4.3 percent in 2000-01.
It was recorded at 5.5 percent in 2001-02 and 4 percent in 2002-03 and as soon as UPA came to power, the country's growth rate jacked up to 8.1 percent in 2003-04.
"In 2004-05, we registered a growth of 7 percent, in 2005-06 - 9.5 percent, 2006-07 - 9.6, in 2007-08 9.3 percent, in 2008-09 6.7 percent, in 2009-10 - 8.6 percent, in 2010-11 -9.3 percent, in 2010-11 - 6.3 percent. It is only in the current year that growth rate will fall to five per cent," he said.
Singh said that he sincerely hoped "the LOP will reflect calmly on the situation we have dealt with as the path we have chosen is the right path" and stressed that the allocation for social sector schemes went up during the UPA rule in comparison to the NDA period.
"UPA govt focussed on social spending... We are proud of expanding expenditure in social sector. We are proud of making sincere efforts to fulfil the desire of the poor," he said.
Singh said that during NDA rule, there was "token provisions" for "this programme that programme" but the "allocation was so small".
Citing figures to drive home the point that allocations in schemes like PMGSY went up manifold during the UPA rule, the Prime Minister said from a meagre allocation of Rs 9,682 crore in 2001-04, it went up to Rs 56,251 in 2009-13.
Likewise, he said, the UPA continued with the good programmes of NDA like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and even increased spending from only Rs 2,730 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 21,907 crore in 2012-13.
Lauding the success of NDA-ruled Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, Singh said he was happy to see developments in BIMARU states.
He also expressed satisfaction that agriculture is showing good growth in some states and promised to provide all assistance to them to tide over problems like drought and water shortage.
"UPA government has focussed on social spending. We are proud of expanding expenditure in social sector. We are proud of making sincere efforts to fulfil the desire of the poor... There are tremendous spendings in UPA government and we are not ashamed of it," he said.
Singh reminded that in 1990s also, when Congress was in power and adopted economic reforms to create environment for rapid industrialisation, there were doubts about its intents.
He said there were charges that policies are made in Washington and not in Delhi, but in 1996 there was United Front Government and later BJP government at the Centre, still "there was no change in direction of this path."
"All parties, whatever they may say, have sworn by the economic reforms," the Prime Minister said.
Stating that the LOP is right when he said the country required rapid pace of industrialisation for higher growth rate, Singh asserted, "I would like to remind this House this is precisely the intent of UPA government."
Admitting that there are bound to be difficulties as large sums were being spent for first time on social sector schemes, he said, "These are problems of fast growing economy."