The government on Monday brushed aside criticism on the recent hike in fuel prices and said the Indian consumer was still insulated from high global crude oil prices.
“World crude oil prices have almost doubled in the past two years to reach an all-time high of $100 per barrel, yet my government has managed to moderate the impact on the domestic consumer,” President Pratibha Patil said in her customary address to both houses of Parliament ahead of presentation of the Union Budget.
Patil said the government’s strategy of “inclusive growth” had been enabled by and contributed to the acceleration of economic growth.
“For the first time in history, the Indian economy has grown at close to 9 per cent per annum for four years in a row. The historically high investment rate, of over 35 per cent of GDP, and savings rate, of over 34 per cent of GDP, symbolise a new dynamism in our economy,” she said.
She said the performance was all the more creditable against the background of high international oil prices and rising commodity and food prices. “It will continue to be the endeavour of my Government to sustain growth while keeping prices under check. My Government has endeavoured to insulate the Indian consumer from these global inflationary trends,” she said.
The President said the government has "reversed" the decline in public investment in agriculture, and the target of doubling agricultural credit in three years had been substantially exceeded. "My government remains fully committed to ensuring that the economic growth process is socially inclusive, regionally balanced and environmentally sustainable," Patil said.
She pointed out that the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) laid adequate emphasis on inclusive growth. “The plan has set a target of (average) 9 per cent GDP growth for the country as a whole to be achieved in a manner that will provide equality of opportunity for quality education, for employment and enterprise, free people from the burden of ill-health and eliminate discrimination,” she said.
During the 11th Plan period the objective is to raise the total annual investment in infrastructure from 5 per cent to 9 per cent of the GDP. Public sector investment would continue to play an important role in infrastructure development, supplemented by private investment wherever possible, she said.