New Delhi: The National Development Council (NDC), the country's highest decision-making body, on Saturday set 9 percent growth target for the 12th Plan despite slowing economy amidst concerns of double dip global recession.

Presiding over the day-long meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said problems in the current year are short-term in nature. "...current slowdown is a matter of concern but it should be seen as a short-term phenomenon", he added.

India is regarded as one of the fastest growing emerging markets. Even as the growth targets are being revised downward in all countries for the current year, "we must guard against the mood of negativism that seems to have gripped the country," he added.

He said the government has a role in ensuring good governance with transparency and effective enforcement of the rule of law. It also needs to ensure that "every citizen must
have access to essential public services of acceptable quality in health, education...safe drinking water and sanitation".

On concerns that Centre was being discriminatory against developed states, Singh said, "it is a perception and not based on reality."

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee urged Chief Ministers to shun populism to help country move on the path of reforms.

"As politicians we like to win elections...But our own election victory must never take precedence over India's victory. I say this because there are several important reforms which need legislative action...", Mukherjee said.

He listed the pending reforms which include introduction of Goods and Services Tax and the Direct Taxes Code.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia later told reporters an annual average growth rate of 9 per cent the 12th Plan would be the target, up from 8.2
per cent estimated during the 11th Plan.

He also underlined the need for reducing subsidies and raising power tariffs in view of resource constraint.

Responding to complaints discrimination by chief ministers of Opposition-ruled states, Prime Minister in his concluding remarks said, "Centre is determined to treat all states of Union fairly and transparently".

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, in her address read by state Finance Minister Lalji Verma said "to achieve such balanced and higher level of development, it will be necessary
to rise above party politics and so distribute the resources as to uplift the lagging regions and neglected sections of our society."

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, whose speech was read at the NDC by a state minister, accused the Centre of weaken the states.

Similar concerns were expressed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.

Mayawati, Jayalalithaa and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh were among the six CMs who did not attend the NDC meet.


(Agencies)