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01-05-2010, 01:53 AM #1
Economic Reforms Have Positive Impacts, Still Poverty A Major Challenge - Says PM
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has admitted that, though the economic reforms have alleviated poverty to some extent, still it is a major challenge. He was speaking at the 92nd annual conference of the Indian Economic Association here in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
"There is no doubt in my view that poverty remains a major challenge. Our poor are still too poor and we need to do much more to improve their standard of living," he said, in his address at the 92nd annual conference of the Indian Economic Association here.
Stressing on the focus on reduction of poverty, the PM said, "The economy has to grow fast enough to create new job opportunities at a rate faster than the growth of labour force."
He also stressed on the comprehensive plans chalked out in the Eleventh Five Year Plan for the alleviation of the poverty.
The prime minister suggested that the country must pay greater attention to the sectors like education, health and rural development for an inclusive growth.
"We need to pay greater attention to education, healthcare and rural development focusing particularly on the needs of the poor - scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities," he said. He also urged efficient and economic use of scarce natural resources like land and water.
"Special attention has to be paid in increasing agricultural productivity-particularly of small and marginal farmers," he added.
The prime minister, however, denied that the economic reforms had adversely affected the poor.
Denying any adverse effect of the new economic reforms, the prime minister said, "There is no evidence that the new economic policies have had an adverse effect on the poor."
"It is true that the rate of decline has not been as it should have been," he said.
According to the prime minister, the economic reforms have helped in bringing down the number of people living below poverty line.
"Ideally facts are quite clear. The percentage (of people) below poverty line has not increased. In fact, the population below poverty line has declined after economic reforms, at least at the same rate as it was before," the prime minister added.
"Some economists argued that the poverty line should have been bridged. That means the percentage in poverty is obviously high. That does not mean that the percentage below the poverty line is not declining," the prime minister said.
He also stressed on making a favourable atmosphere of growth by improving governance in every sector.
"Greater emphasis has to be laid on reforms in governance to reduce the scope for corruption," he added.
It is expected that the country’s economy would grow at the rate of 7% or a little more in 2009-2010.
"The momentum was interrupted by the global economic crisis in 2008 and we slowed down to 6.7 percent in 2008-09 and are likely to achieve seven per cent or a little more in the current fiscal year," he said.
The prime minister laid the foundation stone of the proposed campus of National Institute for Science Education and Research (NISER) near Jatni in Khordha district, about 25 km from the capital.
As per a seven-year plan, the union cabinet had given its approval for the institute at an estimated cost of Rs.823.19 crore and at the same time, about 761 posts are to be created in various sectors including academic, scientific, technical, administrative and auxiliary categories.
NISER is currently conducting the five-year integrated masters in science programme in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. It had started its first programme in 2007.
NISER is an autonomous research institution funded jointly by the DAE and the Orissa government. It has already been allotted 300 acres of land by the Orissa government.
Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the state in August 2006, when he had announced the establishment of NISER in the state.