New Delhi: Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu wants Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take charge of the Finance Ministry after Pranab Mukherjee moves to Rashtrapati Bhawan saying that he is an extremely capable person.

"Prime Minister is a very trained economist... He was there in the 1991 reforms ... (although) it is a political decision... who come and goes... but one thing is for sure that he is extremely capable," Basu said in an interview to TV channel.

Mukherjee, who is the UPA's nominee for the Presidential election, is likely to resign as Finance Minister within a week to contest for the highest post in the country.

Following his resignation, the Prime Minister will have a choice to either retain the portfolio with himself or appoint a new Finance Minister.

Admitting that coalition politics has hindered decision making, Basu said, the time has come to take hard decisions.

"Government is being criticised ... growth has come down ... there has been problem on the domestic policy as well ... but one has to accept the fact that there are problems because of global situation...," he said.

On opening of foreign investment in multi-brand retail, Basu said, "FDI in retail should have happened ... but this did not happen due to political reasons".

Responding to the criticism by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar that Mukherjee's budget took country back to the era of 1990s and adverse comments of some industry leaders, Basu said, "I do not agree ... This is not a situation where the country is leader less ... it is a coalition government and decision have to be taken together".

Basu further said that current situation cannot be compared with that of 1991, when India faced foreign currency crisis.

"There is no comparison of today with the 1990s...in 1990 India's per capita growth was almost 0 per cent...now we are growing at almost 4 percent.

"India’s foreign reserves are high...in 1990 it was below 5 billion...now it is 300 billion...exports are also high...I do not agree with Mr Pawar...there are range of opinions...and we should appreciate that", he said.

He further said the current tussle for the Presidential candidate has given an opportunity for the government and the allies to come on board and push for some reforms in the days to come.

Critical of Mukherjee, Pawar in a recent media interview had said, "my personal view is that the budget has created a certain impression that we are going back to the 1990s".

Industry leaders like Azim Premji and N R Narayana Murthy had expressed concerns on the pace of policy decisions and even described the nation as leaderless.

(Agencies)

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