New govt likely to push growth policies: Ahluwalia

21 April 2014

Montek Singh AhluwaliaThe biggest policy challenge that India faces is to negate the perception that a handful of big corporations have cosy deals with the government, the head of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, told an audience in New York on Sunday.

He also said the new government that will come in next month will get enough time to take initiatives in this direction before its motives are questioned.

"But probably 6-8 months down the line the honeymoon will be over and all the issues will come up again,'' he warned, addressing an India business conference at the Columbia Business School.

He said "a broad continuation" of policies would give better results as there is a ''surprising'' amount of overlap in what the two major political parties want.

"There is a global distrust of governments all over the world. We suffer from that too," Ahluwalia said.

His comments come in the backdrop of allegations of crony capitalism flying thick and fast, particularly since the election process has started.

Ahluwalia said that "messages" coming out from all major political parties ahead of and during national elections is that there is a keenness to restore investor confidence that India can do well in a global integrated economy.

"I personally think that those will be the policies that will be put in place," he said.

"If you look at the manifestos of the two major parties, there is a surprising amount of overlap in what they want. Everybody seems to want growth, wants to be inclusive, (realise that) infrastructure is important, we need to do more in education."

Ahluwalia said 7-8 per cent GDP growth would be possible if pending policies are implemented by the new government.

"The growth rate has bottomed out and I do think there will be an upturn. What we are seeing at the moment is a slowing down of India's growth rate at about 5 per cent for the last two years and a general feeling that the growth rate is going to pick up in the year ahead," he said.

Appearing on a video link, Ahluwalia told faculty, students and entrepreneurs attending the day-long conference that in the year ahead both the global and the Indian economy "is actually going to look a lot better simply because we know the global economy has turned around. On the whole people think that the global economy will be reasonably well managed."

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