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April 25, 2000
Sinha maintains suspense over changes in Finance Bill
The government has also targeted an eight to ten per cent economic growth for the next decade, Sinha said, adding that this would help in eradicating poverty and unemployment.
Sinha, however, refused to divulge if any changes would be make in the Finance Bill as per the industry's demands.
''If I make any changes in the Finance Bill, I would not be the first or the last finance minister to do so,'' he said while addressing the annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is committed to second generation reforms, the minister said. ''The industry has to grow to contribute to the national wealth,'' he said, emphasising good government-industry interface. ''It is time now to look at the impact of our policies.''
In two years, Sinha said, steel, cement, automobiles and a host of other sectors have rebounded. The year 1998-99 saw a record output in food grains which touched the 2000 million tonne mark.
Referring to the finance ministers' meeting in Germany, Sinha said, ''India's image has undergone a dramatic change abroad, especially the information technology sector. India's interest should also be protected abroad through a strong patent legislation. Besides, the country's image should be projected as a unified nation.''
Stating that the country must move towards an 8-10 per cent growth rate, Sinha said efforts should also be made to reduce the impact of public sector dis-savings and reduce fiscal deficit.
''If we do not grow at a fast pace, then we will not be able to address the problems of poverty.''
He, however, stated that agriculture production this year would not be able to keep pace with the growth rate in the 1998-99 fiscal due to natural calamities that hit the nation recently.
He said, ''We have tried to push comprehensively every part of the economy forward. But if there is no consensus, there will be a fractious atmosphere. Today, consensus is weakening because it was becoming a victim of party polities.''
In order to control the deficit, which still remains the main challenge facing the government, agriculture, industry and services must be targeted for growth. ''It is in these areas that the role of the foreign direct investment becomes crucial.''
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