Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday that the country was expected to close the current fiscal year with an economic growth rate of 9 per cent, but noted that inflation remained a cause for worry.
Confidence and caution alternated as the minister spent a busy day addressing overseas Indians at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas on the one hand domestic leaders at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on the other.
"I am confident that the current fiscal year will end up with a growth rate of close to 9 per cent although I do not know where the decimal might fall," he told reporters.
However, as in the case of inflation, Chidambaram also showed caution on the part of the government in acquiring land for industralisation, be it for the Tatas to make cars in West Bengal or for special economic zones (SEZs).
"There is a sacred tie between the tiller and land. That tie can never be broken. Any attempt to snap the relationship between the tiller and the land is bound to face opposition," he told at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas function and reiterated it at the FICCI annual general meeting.
Chidambaram made his remarks in the presence of Tata group chairman Ratan Tata, who offered no comment to the media.
At the FICCI conference, the minister talked of inflation being a worry, blaming it on supply side constraints that stopped goods from meeting their points of demand. Inflation based on wholesale prices is currently at 5.48 per cent.
That did not deter the minister from expressing his longer term confidence in the economy, as he told non-resident Indians (NRIs) that the government was lining up special instruments to attract funds from them to finance development.
"NRI remittance to India, on average, are of a three-year duration. I urge you to expand your horizon to bring long term money for at least ten years as well as your expertise in various fields," Chidambaram said.
He also stressed the new-found confidence in Indian industrialists facing up to inflation as he discussed the Tata’s ongoing bid to take over Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus.