Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday ruled out privatisation of state-run banks and said market economy was not the solution to the nation's economic problems.
Recalling that the late prime minister Indira Gandhi had nationalised banks 40 years ago in 1969, Mukherjee said, "We survived the economic meltdown because of this step. In the world's leading countries, the finance sectors have crashed but we are still surviving because we nationalised our banking sector."
Rather than privatising banks, he said, the government policy was to strengthen the state-run banks. "The government will always have at least 51 per cent stake in them," Mukherjee said while inaugurating the 28th conference of the West Bengal unit of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
He said economic reforms were needed, but the stress would be on fulfilling the needs of the "aam admi" (common man).
"Market economy cannot be the only end of economic reforms. Unbridled market economy is not the right thing. It cannot be the panacea for our economic problems," he said.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was trying to frame policies that will bring about an economic uplift and safeguard the interests of organised workers and farmers, besides those in the unorganised sectors.
"Sonia Gandhi has asked me to discuss the matter with the INTUC. I shall do so," he added. Unless the purchasing power of the working class is raised, the country cannot prosper, Mukherjee said.
"So our main aim is to eradicate poverty. We have the National Rural employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). We will introduce similar schemes to raise the purchasing power of the poor people so that companies' productions are unaffected by lack of demand".