Manmohan Singh urges new ministers to work hard
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opened the meeting of his new Cabinet of Ministers with a warning that much has still to be done, especially in the field of infrastructure.
The full text of his speech to the Cabinet can be found on the prime minister’s website but the two salient paragraphs are reproduced below:
“While we should take justifiable pride in our successes, it is important to recognize that we are now also experiencing the fallout of difficult economic conditions worldwide. As a result, our growth has decelerated, our exports have fallen and our fiscal deficits are expanding. Of particular concern is the fiscal deficit, which is too high and acts as a deterrent for domestic and foreign investment. These issues have a rippling effect across the economy and on the work of many departments that are represented here. In order to have a clearer appreciation of the macro-economic picture that we are faced with, I have also requested Finance Minister Shri Chidambaram to share an assessment of the economic situation with us. My own view is that while we need not be unduly gloomy about our prospects, we certainly need to redouble our resolve to meet the challenges before us and rise to the task of governance.
One area that is at the top of our agenda and will require particular attention and effort at multiple levels across government is infrastructure. During the Twelfth Plan, we have set ourselves a target of realizing nearly 1 trillion dollars of investment in infrastructure sectors. To do so, we will have to overcome the constraints that currently deter or slow down this investment. Fuel supply arrangements, security and environmental clearances and financing difficulties are among these constraints. The growing gap between demand and supply of energy has emerged as a major constraint on our development. It is a major factor in widening the deficit on current account of our balance of payments as well as the fiscal deficit. It is imperative that we come to a common understanding on these issues and work out mechanisms and remedial measures that will enable us to tackle these critical deficiencies on a priority basis.”