Indian PM hopes for 7 percent growth next year

AP News
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Posted: Nov 08, 2009 6:25 AM

The Indian government is pushing ahead with economic reforms aimed at achieving a growth rate of more than 7 percent next year but will make sure the benefits reach the poor, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sunday.

India's economy is expected to expand 6.5 percent this year despite inadequate monsoon rains that caused agricultural production to dip, Singh told participants in a three-day India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum.

"There are clearly signs of an upturn in the economy. With a normal monsoon next year, we hope to achieve a growth rate of over 7 percent," Singh said.

Singh was India's finance minister in the early 1990s and was the prime architect of economic reforms that propelled the country on its current growth trajectory.

India has fared better than most countries in the ongoing global economic downturn, Singh said. He said the government will now concentrate on accelerating the pace of economic reform, opening up key areas such as the financial sector.

However, the government will ensure that the benefits of the policies reach the poorer sections of society, he said.

"Our strategy today is not just to deliver rapid growth, but to deliver rapid and inclusive growth," Singh said.

The emphasis will be on creating jobs and raising living standards in rural areas, he said.