New Delhi: A day after steel king Lakhshmi N Mittal said India was “not prepared” to handle big ticket industrial projects, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday promised that his government would address the bottlenecks in infrastructure to keep up the economic growth.
"I recognise the frustration of well-wishers feel when they lament why things don`t work faster or why well-formulated plans and policies don`t get implemented as well as they should be," the Prime Minister told the annual convention for overseas Indians here.
Partially acknowledging the criticisms that India is moving slow on infrastructure development, Singh said: "It’s probably true that we are a slow-moving elephant but it is equally true that with each step forward we leave behind a deep imprint."
Mittal, chairman of world’s leading steel producer ArcellorMittal, on Thursday lashed out at the central and state governments for slow progress on steel projects.
The Prime Minister also said the economy would grow 7 percent in the current fiscal.
"We hope to achieve a growth rate of around 7 percent this year, which is one of the fastest in the world," he said, adding: "During the year gone by, the world faced unprecedented economic and financial crisis. But the Indian economy weathered this crisis quite well."
Manmohan Singh’s forecast is slightly lower than that of his key policy makers. Several officials of his government, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, have said the economy would grow between 7.5 and 8 percent.
However, the Prime Minister said India would “soon” return to 9-10 percent growth. We are equally optimistic we can return to and sustain an annual growth rate of 9-10 percent in a couple of years."
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing the conference after the Prime Minister’s speech, looked more optimistic about the Indian economy.
"The Indian economy is on the growth trajectory path. We may expect 7.75 percent growth this fiscal," Mukherjee said.
"I am quite confident if things go the way they are going, it is possible to achieve a growth of 9-10 percent," he said, detailing the manner in which India had ridden out the global meltdown.
"In January 2009 when I took over, the challenge was whether to go the traditional way and wait for sunny days or take steps that were not conventional," he said, referring to the Rs.186,000 crore ($37 billion) stimulus packages to generate internal demand.
"The risk paid off. In the first two quarters of 2009-10 -- in April-June the growth was 6.1 percent and in July-September it was 7.9 percent. So in the first six months, growth has been 7 percent against 5.8 percent in the corresponding period of last fiscal."
Last month Mukherjee had said the recovery was sustainable and economy could expand by 8 percent in the fiscal.
The government’s revised expectation is higher than the initial growth forecast of 6.7 percent for the fiscal.
A rapid pick-up in consumer demand, revival of the credit market and rebound in the equity trade forced the key government officials to revise their growth expectations.
The economy expanded 7.9 percent in the second quarter this fiscal and Indian equity markets remained one of the most profitable markets in the world in 2009.
With agency inputs