Price rise may slow down growth: PM
February 05, 2011
Admitting that inflation affected the poor and vulnerable sections "disproportionately harder", Singh said though the economy was on a high growth trajectory for the past few years, inflation posed a "serious threat to the growth momentum".
Inflation based on the wholesale price index rose to 8.43% in December, while food inflation was estimated at 17% in the third week of January.
"There seems to be a strong case for waiving mandi taxes, octroi and local taxes, which impede the smooth movement of essential commodities," Singh said while addressing state chief secretaries. He said there was a need for a "paradigm shift" in the institutional arrangements, for improving the availability of various commodities to meet higher levels of domestic consumption.
Speaking against corruption, the Prime Minister said, "This is a challenge which has to be faced frontally, boldly and quickly." Stating that "corruption strikes at the roots of good governance", Singh said, "It is an impediment to faster growth. It dilutes, if not negates, our efforts at social inclusion... It dents our international image and it demeans us before our own people."
A series of scandals ranging from the 2G scam, allegations of corruption in organising the Commonwealth Games and the Adarsh housing scam has left the government reeling.
Referring to the group of ministers (GoM), headed by finance minister Pranab Mukerjee and set up recently to look into all measures, legal or administrative, to tackle the menace, the Prime Minister said two bills have already been introduced in Parliament relating to judicial accountability and the protection of whistle blowers.
"Along with legislation, the necessary revamp of administrative practices and procedures needs to be fast-tracked. A systemic response that reduces opportunities for corruption needs to be put in place," Singh said.
Serious concern has been expressed in many responsible circles about the lack of ethical conduct and probity in public life, he said. The PM said the introduction of competition, greater choice and modern technology could cut down the opportunities for corruption in a very meaningful manner.
Delays, another major cause, could be addressed to a large extent by effective decentralisation and delegation of power and responsibility, he said while seeking the support of top bureaucrats in bringing about vast improvements in governance.
Cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar, while delivering the welcome address, said decisions taken by bureaucrats should not be judged in hind-sight but with due regard to the extant situation. This, he felt, was necessary to ensure that they perform without fear or prejudice.