India cannot go slow pursuing policies, inflation unacceptably high: PM

New Delhi, Dec 15 (ANI): Cautioning that India cannot go slow in pursuing policies that restore the growth momentum in the country's economy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday stressed that the country needs to reduce social and regional inequalities.

India's growth slowed to 5.3% in the second quarter of the fiscal, from 5.5% in the first quarter.

Speaking at the 85th Annual General Meeting of FICCI in New Delhi, Singh said: "I wish to utilize this occasion to outline three broad themes - first, to underline the importance of accelerating economic growth and making the growth process socially and regionally more inclusive; Second, to draw your attention to the measures that we have already taken towards this end; and finally, outline steps we still need to and we intend to take."

"We have been able to accelerate the pace of economic growth over the last decade, with an average growth rate of over 8%. Even now, we are the second fastest growing large economy in the world," Singh said.

The Prime Minsiter further said: "While this is certainly a cause for satisfaction, I am pained when I see the level of social and regional inequalities that continue to exist in our country. Disparities in income and wealth cannot be eliminated overnight or in the short run.

"But, disparities of the kind we have in India, even in terms of access to basic facilities such as health, education, safe drinking water, electricity, rural infrastructure and even banking, is something that the nation can ill afford. The inflation rates in the last two years have also increased to unacceptably high levels and need to be brought down to no more than 5 to 6 percent per annum."

He said: "The steps we have taken recently are only the beginning of a process to revive our economy and take it back to its trend growth rate of 8.0 to 9.0%. We need to complete the exercise that was begun on GAAR and taxation of the IT sector.

"The day before yesterday, the Cabinet has approved the constitution of a Cabinet Committee on Investment. This would help in the issue of clearances for major projects in a time bound manner. We will speed up the disinvestment process, which will also revive our equity markets." (ANI)