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PM's Opening Remarks at the Meeting of Council of Ministers

PM's Opening Remarks at the Meeting of Council of Ministers

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Published by: Firstpost on Nov 01, 2012
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PM's opening remarks at the meetingof Council of Ministers
My Cabinet Colleagues and Members of the Union Councilof Ministers,I welcome you to this meeting of the full Council of Ministers. Since a number of new colleagues have joined theCouncil following the recent reshuffle, I thought it opportuneto convene this meeting to welcome them and also to sharewith all of you a few thoughts on the agenda of ourGovernment.The UPA Government is now in its ninth year. We shouldtake pride in the fact that, during this time, we have notchedup significant achievements in the field of social andeconomic policy-making. Flagship initiatives like theMahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment GuaranteeScheme, the setting up of the Unique Identification Authorityof India to provide every resident with an “Aadhaar” numberto access social support services, Rural Health Mission,Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, SkillDevelopment Mission and legislation bringing into effect theRight to Information and the Right to Education – these areonly a few examples of the UPA Government’s work in orderto realize its fundamental objective of inclusive growth.We have also, during most of this time, enjoyed sustainedand robust economic growth, which in turn has madepossible the enhanced social sector spending necessary tosupport our initiatives in the fields of health, education,employment, agriculture and rural development and other
vital areas.While we should take justifiable pride in our successes, it isimportant to recognize that we are now also experiencing thefallout of difficult economic conditions worldwide. As aresult, our growth has decelerated, our exports have fallenand our fiscal deficits are expanding. Of particular concern isthe fiscal deficit, which is too high and acts as a deterrent fordomestic and foreign investment. These issues have arippling effect across the economy and on the work of manydepartments that are represented here. In order to have aclearer appreciation of the macro-economic picture that weare faced with, I have also requested Finance Minister ShriP.Chidambaram to share an assessment of the economicsituation with us. My own view is that while we need not beunduly gloomy about our prospects, we certainly need toredouble our resolve to meet the challenges before us and riseto the task of governance.One area that is at the top of our agenda and will requireparticular attention and effort at multiple levels acrossgovernment is infrastructure. During the Twelfth Plan, wehave set ourselves a target of realizing nearly 1 trilliondollars of investment in infrastructure sectors. To do so, wewill have to overcome the constraints that currently deter orslow down this investment. Fuel supply arrangements,security and environmental clearances and financingdifficulties are among these constraints. The growing gapbetween demand and supply of energy has emerged as amajor constraint on our development. It is a major factor inwidening the deficit on current account of our balance of payments as well as the fiscal deficit. It is imperative that wecome to a common understanding on these issues and work 

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