Focus should be on returning Indian economy to higher growth path: Chidambaram

New Delhi, Jan. 4 (ANI): Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said that higher growth in the economy will give an opportunity to the government to roll out development programmes for different sections of society, especially for the neglected and poorer sections of society.

In this regard, Chidambaram specifically mentioned schemes such as MGNERGA, the National Rural Health Mission, the Prime Minister's Gramin Sadak Yojana and Prime Minister's New 15 Point Programme for Minorities, among others.

"Our every action should lead to restoration of Indian economy back to the path of higher growth," he said.

Chidambaram said 'though the year just passed by was a difficult one, we have come out from that phase and the focus in next year would be on higher growth'.

In his opening remarks during his third pre-budget consultation meeting with social sector-related groups here today, Chidambaram further said that 'the global economy was passing through a critical phase and we can't remain unaffected'

"This was visible through decline in exports, slowdown in investment, high inflation and problem of restoring fiscal health of the country," he added, and hoped that by the end of the fiscal year, some good results will be seen in the economy.

Ministers of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam and Namo Narain Meena, Adviser to the Finance Minister Parthasarthy Shome, Finance Secretary R.S. Gujral, Financial Services and Disinvestment Secretary D.K. Mittal, Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram, Ministry of Women and Child Development Secretary Prem Narain, Department of Disability Affairs Secretary Stuti Kacker, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Special Secretary Kesav Desiraju, Chief Economic Adviser Dr. Raghuram R. Rajan and Chairman CBEC were present among others.

The representatives of social sector group made various recommendations and suggestions for consideration for the forthcoming Union Budget 2013-14.

The suggestions included engagement of highly qualified professionals at grass root level, tax exemptions of the amount donated to the non-profit organisations, recognition of legitimate profit making NGOs for banking loan and financing, use of services of NGOs for financial inclusion, Swalamban Scheme and Aam Admi Bima Yojana.

Some participants suggested empowerment of panchayats to strengthen their implementing capacity, linking of rural development programme MGNERGA to linking of rivers and development of inland waterways as well as linking Aam Admi Bima Yojana with MGNERGA etc.

Some participants suggested higher allocation for rehabilitation of disabled people whose number is around 2.5 crore, early disbursement of grants to NGOs, funds allocated to NGOs to be made non-lapsable and tax concession for Non-Banking Financial Companies/Institutions (NBFCs) and Micro Financing Institutions (MFIs) among others. Certain participants asked for higher allocation for sustainable agriculture and promoting renewable energy.

They asked for declaring renewable energy sector as priority sector lending, more tax on high-energy consumable goods, stipulation of renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020, target for replacing chemical fertilizer with organic fertilizer and creation of fund for setting-up School of Ecology in all state agricultural universities among others.

Certain participants asked for exemption of charitable institutions from service tax, more allocation of funds for alleviating urban poverty, recognition of workers in informal sector, linking of planning and allocation to specific outcomes and results, higher allocation for welfare of SC/ST, formulation and adoption of National Competition Policy, national policy for public and private use of ground water and in urban areas, bank linkages for self help groups, higher investment in education, gender equality and for providing water and sanitation facilities especially in small towns among others. (ANI)

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