Los Cabos (Mexico): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday sought to send strong signals to fellow “impatient” citizens, global investors and, perhaps, skeptical rating agencies that he will resume reforms and ensure higher growth with an action-plan that will restore confidence in the Indian economy.
Attending the G20 Summit in this resort-town, the prime minister made a slew of remarks to send this message, including a further pledge of $10 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Eurozone nations out of the current crisis and action on the domestic front to remove all impediments to growth.
He made it clear that while the world may think that the 6.9 percent growth the Indian economy logged last fiscal was impressive, his fellow citizens thought otherwise and wanted the country to expand at a much faster rate. “We are determined to create an environment that would boost investor sentiment and promote an atmosphere conducive to enterprise and creativity,” the prime minister said, amid perceptions in recent months of a policy paralysis in India and lack of reforms.
“Our policies will be transparent, stable and designed to provide a level playing field to both domestic and foreign investors,” he said, in an indication that that his government now meant business and would act on matters such as foreign equity in retail and move forward on financial sector reforms.
The $10 billion India pledged here to the IMF help the Eurozone countries out of their crisis – over and above the $14 billion already committed since 2008 – was to, perhaps, send strong signals to rating agencies and those bearish on India that the economy remained resilient and that’s why there was enough room for such contributions in global interests.
The prime minister was here on the first leg of an eight-day overseas visit since Saturday, across four continents, which will also take him to Brazil to attend the Rio+20 summit on the environment Wednesday.
Addressing the domestic audience, and other stakeholders in general, Manmohan Singh said since citizens desired that the Indian economy needed to perform better, this aspiration would be met with steps like infrastructure investment and improving investor sentiment.
“Our public is impatient for a return to high growth and faster jobs creation. The fundamentals of the Indian economy remain strong and we are confident of bringing back the rhythm of high growth of 8-9 percent per annum.”
He also said the fiscal stimulus that was injected in 2008 will be reversed and hard decisions taken to cut doles in areas such as fertilizers and fuels.
“In this context, I would like to mention a landmark effort underway in India to provide unique identity numbers for all residents with capture of biometric data,” the prime minister said, adding, “This massive database covering over a billion people will facilitate delivery of a whole range of financial and other services, through effective targeting and reduced leakages in subsidy schemes.”
On the sidelines of the G20 summit, the prime minister also hosted a meeting of the leaders of BRICS nations, which was attended by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South African President Jacob Zuma.
He also held formal bilateral meetings with his host and Mexican President Felipe Calderon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, besides several pull asides with fellow G20 leaders, including US President Barack Obama.
Manmohan Singh, who will leave for Brazil later Tuesday returns in New Delhi Saturday.