New Delhi: Addressing the joint sitting of the Parliament at the outset of the Budget Session, President Pranab Mukherjee brought spotlight on the slow growth of Indian economy.

The President said that government is taking steps to revive investment activity and boost economy.

"Both global and domestic factors have affected our growth. We need to address the impact of both. My government has responded to the situation by taking several measures to revive investment activity and investor sentiment," he said.

The economic growth during the 2012-13 is expected to fall to a decade low level of 5 percent. It was 6.2 percent in the previous fiscal. "The past year has been a very difficult one for the global economy ...It has been a difficult year for India also."

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"The Indian economy is currently experiencing slower growth. The real GDP grew by 5.4 percent in the first half of the current fiscal year. This is significantly lower than the average of around 8 percent in the last decade," Mukherjee said, adding the government is taking steps to deal with factors responsible for the slowdown.

On concerns over fiscal prudence, Mukherjee said, the government has announced a roadmap for fiscal consolidation and would contain the fiscal deficit to 5.3 percent of the GDP in the current financial year.

Referring to the issue of price rise, he said "inflation is easing gradually, it is still a problem ... There has been a moderation in core inflation and recovery in growth is likely". The inflation based on Wholesale Price Index (WPI) plummeted to a three year low of 6.62 percent in January. The retail inflation, however continued to remain in double digit.

The government, he added, is also working with states to reach a consensus on Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will streamline indirect taxation system.

Mukherjee further said relentless efforts of farmers coupled with conducive policies of the government have resulted in record foodgrain production for two consecutive years, with last year achieving a peak of 260 million tonnes.

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This year, he said, despite erratic and deficient rainfall, it is projected that India will produce more than 250 million tonne of foodgrains.

"Our foodgrains position is, therefore, comfortable. The total stock of foodgrains with the public sector agencies was 662 lakh tonnes on February 1, 2013...," Mukherjee said.

He said the recently approved New Investment Policy for urea is expected to create nearly 100 lakh MT of additional production capacity in urea by 2017, making the country self reliant in the product.

Pointing out that lack of adequate and quality infrastructure is a major hurdle in the fast growth, he said, it is imperative that the infrastructure deficit is "overcome and adequate investment takes place".

The President also said the government remains committed to increasing the share of manufacturing sector to 25 percent of GDP and creating 100 million jobs within a decade.

Referring to the recent rollout of Direct Benefits Transfer system, he said it would enable government sponsored benefits such as scholarships, pensions and maternity benefits to flow directly into the accounts of beneficiaries.

"In due course, the Direct Benefits Transfer system will also cover wages and subsidies on food and LPG. This system will help cut down leakages, bring millions of people into the financial system and lead to better targeting of beneficiaries," he said.

However, the President said, the Direct Benefits Transfer system will not be a substitute for public services and will be complementary to the Public Distribution System.


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