Agencies, New Delhi
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Saturday expressed satisfaction over the growth rate country has achieved in last five years.
“Last five years i.e. from 2014-2018 have been probably the ‘only five years’ period where India has achieved 6.5 – 7 per cent plus growth rate with macroeconomic stability.” Mr Kumar said during the inaugural session of Indian Economic Outlook 2019, organised here in the national capital by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and supported by ICSSR.
“Inflation has been controlled below 4 per cent. Our current account deficit is around 2.5 per cent, our fiscal deficit has been around 3.5 per cent. So there has been clearly a macroeconomic stability with 7 per cent growth rate.” he said adding “India needs three decades of sustained growth at an average of 8% to meet the aspirations of its growing population”.
Mr Kumar said that 2014-2018 was the period which saw a huge amount of ‘actual inclusion’. “Not just in words but the benefits of whatever growth we have goes out to the people at the bottom of the pyramid. It is clear that this govt has the capability, has reformed governance to the extent that the beneficiaries will receive the benefits that are targeted for them.” he said.
Speaking on the health schemes like Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY, Mr Kumar asserted that despite 37 lakh people being benefited in the first eight months of the scheme — it can still be improved. “Similarly, once you improve this scheme further — we can extend this on payment basis or through voluntary contribution to the rest of the society so that the remaining population is also covered.” he added.
He also apprised that NITI Aayog is soon coming with a ranking system of 740 district hospitals throughout the nation to standardize service delivery in the healthcare sector.
Mr Kumar asserted to focus on providing quality basic education and tackling the problem of malnourishment in kids which is still looming at 34 per cent. ” If all self help groups, Anganwadi , NGOs , Asha workers start working better this come down by 3-4 per cent per year.” he said adding India is looking forward to initiatives like merger of schools to enable provision of quality primary education.
Assuring some action in the coming parliament session on labour reforms, the think tank’s Vice chief said, ” You will see action very soon. But you have to see action not in terms of hire and fire. You have to have labour reforms where labour gets his due and rightful participation but yet investors get the flexibility to be able to change its composition of labour force.” For land reforms, he said, the State and Private sector can come together to use the large inventory of land that has already been acquired and is lying unused for industrialisation.
Speaking on the investment by private sector which has seen a declining trend Mr Kumar said, ” Private investment in last 6-7 years has been declining, which is completely unacceptable — it musn’t happen and it has to increase. So I continue to look for whatever ideas there are and to improve the ease of doing business for the private sector”
Referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s letter wherein she refused to attend the Niti Aayog’s governing council meeting on June 15 saying it is “fruitless” as the body has no financial powers to support state plans, Mr Kumar said that he still hopes that she will accept his personal invitation and attend the meeting and give the idea as to how to improve Niti further.
He maintained that there is a need to build a bond of trust between the stakeholders in the economy including Industry, Government & Bureaucracy to carry forward the growth agenda of the country.