Accessibility links

India's Vows to Fight Poverty With New Budget

  • Anjana Pasricha

India projects it will see 10 percent growth in the coming years - and is promising to use it to alleviate massive poverty. The pledge came as the government unveiled its annual budget for 2006 to 2007.

Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram presented the annual budget to parliament Tuesday - pledging to fight massive poverty with the country's booming growth.

Chidambaram says the government is aiming for 10 percent growth in the coming years. His optimism was based on the impressive growth of more than eight percent expected in the fiscal year that ends in March (2006).

The Congress Party-led government was elected two-years ago on promises of transforming the lives of nearly 250 million people who still live on less than one dollar a day, despite India's booming economy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told state television the budget will allocate more to social spending to keep these promises.

"Our government while remaining committed to doing all that we can do to accelerate the tempo of economic development, we are also pledged we will use the public finances to focus more sharply on sectors and activities which cannot be taken care of by the market forces, basic education, basic healthcare, rural infrastructure," he said.

The government will also boost spending on a series of projects to give the country more power, roads, ports and airports. India's shoddy infrastructure is seen as a potential bottleneck to future growth.

At the same time, the Singh government says it is on target to cut its fiscal deficit, which economists say poses a threat to the economy.

Finance Minister Chidambaram says India's economic health is attracting the attention of international investors.

"There is an investment boom in the country and it is necessary to maintain the confidence of investors," he said. "It appears that India is catching up with high investment rates of East Asia and China."

India will raise its defense spending by seven percent to modernize its huge military.

India's economy has been among the fastest growing in the world in recent years - largely on the back of a buoyant services sector.

XS
SM
MD
LG