New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday expressed concern over persisting difficult economic conditions, stating that the past year has been a difficult one for the economy.
Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session, Mukherjee noted, “Europe is in recession, while market economies’ growth is slowing down.”
He stressed that there was a need to address the impact of growth hurdles.
“Indian economy is experiencing slower growth. Our slower growth is the consequence of global and domestic factors,” the President said.
“The government is taking steps to revive growth. Persisting economic conditions are a worry for all. Also, inflation is easing gradually but is still a problem,” Mukherjee added.
“My government has taken several measures to revive investor confidence. Also, one significant step has been the rollout of direct cash transfer scheme which will complement subsidy schemes,” the President said, adding the scheme will help cut down leakages, bring millions into the financial system and lead to better targeting”.
Mukherjee started his speech by expressing hope that the Budget Session would be fruitful. The start of the President’s speech was marked by slogan shouting by Opposition members.
“I hope this session will be productive and useful. As I speak to you, I am aware that an aspirational India is emerging.
“The Indian youth are our greatest national asset. They are a confident, courageous and passionate lot. I am sure they will take India to a new height,” the President told the MPs.
The President noted that people are concerned about the security of women and children, and added the government has brought in an ordinance and taken several steps for safety of women.
“The government has also begun implementing a series of administrative measures to improve the safety of women. My government has also enacted a path breaking Act - protection of children from sexual acts,” the President said.
The remarks hold significance in the wake of last year’s brutal Delhi gang-rape that evoked nationwide protests.
Mukherjee noted that the average annual GDP growth in the 11th Plan was 8%.
“Growth in the agriculture sector was 3.7% in 11th Plan compared to 2.4% in 10th Plan,” he said.
The President said the UPA government has announced a roadmap for fiscal consolidation and aims to cap fiscal deficit at 5.3% of the GDP.
He said the food grains position in the country was comfortable and that the government was committed to enacting the National Food Security Bill.
The President noted that India continues to be the largest producer of milk in the world.
He said the UPA’s MGNREGA scheme continues to break new grounds in providing employment.
“MGNREGA has provided employment to five crore families. Also, Indira Awas Yojna outlay has been increased and areas infested with Naxalism have been included.”
Other Highlights of President’s Speech:
Govt has introduced important amendments to the Land Acquisition Bill.
12th Plan will give states the freedom to experiment and innovate in backdrop of India's slow economic growth.
Govt has announced a roadmap for fiscal consolidation; working with states to achieve consensus on GST.
Govt has launched national mission on food processing. Self-reliance in urea soon.
12th Plan proposes to consolidate central schemes in a smaller number and increase their flexibility.
Govt has approved National Dairy Plan - Phase 1 to boost milk production in the country to meet demands.
Govt will continue to lay emphasis on development of rain-fed and degraded areas.
Rajiv Awas Yojana extended to all small and medium towns with the target of 1 million houses.
The President says he is confident that the Land Acquisition Bill will be enacted.
India has been polio free for 2 years now.
Govt remains committed to creating a 100 million jobs within a decade.
Govt considering a scheme for concessional credit to handloom sector to benefit about 10 lakh weavers.
Govt is targeting significant reduction of dependence on imported oil and gas.
Govt has liberalised FDI policy in single brand and multi-brand retail.
Govt committed to tackling left-wing extremism and is following a two-pronged approach to deal with the menace.
Govt stands committed to integrity and probity in governance; considering amendments to Prevention of Corruption Act.
Govt committed to stopping any incident that threatens communal peace.
Govt committed to judicial reforms; will introduce Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill.
It is important that Pakistan desists from acts that contribute to a trust deficit.
We continue to seek peace, stability and cooperation in the subcontinent. We attach importance to relations with neighbours.
Making progress in engagements with Sri Lanka in resettling refugees and ensuring life of peace and dignity for the Tamil people.
Have enhanced economic relations with countries of Africa, developed closer relations with ASEAN.
Indian govt intends to work with the new Chinese leadership.
Govt to introduce Constitution Amendment Bill to give effect to Indo-Bangla Land Boundary Agreement.
Govt deeply committed to promoting the interests and security of overseas Indians.
It is only if we constantly defend the democratic values of our country can we progress.
India stands tall as a nation because we are seen as a liberal and plural democracy. Secular practices are our major achievement.
New international award - Tagore award - has been instituted. First awardee is Pandit Ravi Shankar.
First Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013, 11:24