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Govt to focus on sectors hit by crisis: President

Last updated on: June 04, 2009 12:26 IST

Expecting the economy to slow down in the current fiscal amid global recession, President Pratibha Patil on Thursday said the new government will focus on adversely-affected sectors like infrastructure, exports, SMEs, and housing to restore the growth momentum.

Presenting the agenda of the second UPA government at the joint session of Parliament, Patil said the new regime will develop a roadmap for listing public sector units, co-ordinate with other countries to bring back illegal money stashed in secret bank accounts, recapitalise public sector banks, and bring in the pension reforms bill.

"The current financial year is expected to see a slowing down of growth on account of the global recession...Our immediate priority must be to focus on management of the economy that will counter the effect of the global slowdown by a combination of sectoral and macro-level policies," she added.

The new government, the President said, will focus on sectors like small and medium enterprises (SMEs), exports, textiles, commercial vehicles, infrastructure and housing as they are adversely hit by the global financial meltdown.

The UPA government, the President, said will enact the National Food Security Act to provide 25 kg of rice or wheat at Rs three a kg per month to families below the poverty line, a promise made in the Congress election manifesto.

"This legislation will also be used to bring about broader systemic reforms in the public distribution system," she said.

The immediate priority of the Government, Patil said, must be to focus on managing the economy to counter the effect of the global slowdown through a combination of sectoral and macro-level policies.

The efforts, she added, should be accompanied by an expansion of public investment in infrastructure sectors, besides encouraging public-private partnerships.

"Financing the investment will be a critical constraint and my government is determined to ensure that innovative steps are taken in this area, consistent with medium term strategy of prudent fiscal management," the President said.

Noting that the country has benefited from large foreign investment flows, the President said foreign direct investment needs to be encouraged through appropriate policy.

"There is also a need to augment resources in the banking and insurance sectors in order to permit them to serve the needs of society better," she said.

The government, she added, will recapitalise the public sector banks and also bring in legislation to establish a regulator for the pension sector. On disinvestment, she said every citizen has a right to own the shares of public sector undertakings.

"My government will develop a roadmap for listing and people-ownership of public sector undertakings while ensuring that the Government equity does not fall below 51 per cent," the President said.

On money stashed in secret bank accounts, which became an election issue, she said the government is fully seized of the matter and "will vigorously pursue all necessary steps in co-ordination with countries concerned".

As regards Goods and Service Tax, which will replace excise duty, service tax at the Central level and VAT at the state level, Patil said the government will vigorously pursue the matter.

On the social sectors, she said the government will expand the scope of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, make India slum-free in the next five years and set up higher targets in the second phase of the Bharat Nirman programme.

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