Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh made a reference to the tightening monetary scenario and a tightening global economic environment while addressing the Conference of Chief Secretaries at New Delhi today. He stated that in spite of growth rate being impacted adversely, he has he has hailed the 8.4% growth rate of India as “creditable”. Looking back at the problem of inflation, especially with regard to food items, the Prime Minister spoke about the many measures that were taken to stabilize the condition.
The full text of the Prime Minister’s speech has been listed below:
PM’s Address at the Conference of Chief Secretaries The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the Conference of Chief Secretaries in New Delhi today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:
“The Conference of Chief Secretaries is truly an important event in our annual calendar. Each one of you brings nearly a life time of administrative experience to this important gathering. Therefore, collectively you represent a vast body of knowledge and wisdom that the country can and should benefit from. As I welcome you all to this conference, it is my sincere hope that we will gain out of the deliberations here as much as we can and we should.
We live in uncertain times and no one knows this better than the Chief Secretaries of States. As a country, we face a whole range of challenges in diverse areas. In my message to the nation on the eve of the New Year I had grouped these challenges into five broad categories. I consider it worthwhile to re-state these five categories here: one relates to livelihood security, the second relates to realization of economic security, third to energy security, fourth – ecological security and finally, the concerns with national security. It is important that all of us have a clear understanding of these challenges. Also, to effectively overcome them, the Centre and States need to work together. And the Chief Secretaries have obviously a key role to play in ensuring this sort of outcome.
While we should recognize the difficulties that we are confronted with – and we must have strategies to cope with them – we must also have the faith that these difficulties are not insurmountable. Indeed, we have faced uncertain times before. We have faced crises. We have faced difficult odds. But each time our nation has emerged stronger. I have no doubt that whatever be the challenge; we have the will and the ability to achieve success, provided of course, that we all work together and with firm resolve.
I understand that one of the topics for focused discussion in your Conference is Transparent and Accountable Governance – Effective Public Service Delivery systems. Last year when I addressed the Chief Secretaries on 4th February, 2011 I had emphasized the need for a systemic response that reduces the opportunities for corruption in our public life. I had stated that our government was committed to taking all legal and administrative measures to curb corruption in public life. I had also said that we should make full use of advances in modern technology to improve the delivery of our public services system.
Let me say that we have moved substantially forward in these areas in the last one year. We have introduced in Parliament a Bill on Citizens’ Charter which will empower citizens to demand services with appropriate standards from various government departments. The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill has also been introduced in Parliament and as the name suggests it provides for electronic delivery of public services to our citizens. Unfortunately, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill could not be passed in the last session of Parliament but I do hope that we would soon be able to enact a strong Lokpal law. We are moving forward on framing a law for regulating public procurement. The National e-Governance Plan is being implemented to make use of Information and Communication Technology to improve delivery of services to our people. We have made rapid progress in providing Aadhaar numbers to about 13 crore residents, which will help in improving the delivery of programs, particularly those meant for the poor and the under-privileged, and in eliminating leakages. We have also recently approved the coverage of an additional 40 crore residents under the Aadhaar scheme.
All this builds upon our earlier initiatives such as the Right to Information Act, the Judicial Accountability Bill and the Whistle Blowers Bill. But we still have a long way to go in our efforts for ensuring transparency, accountability and probity in public life. I would urge all of you to ensure that the Centre and States work together to move ahead to achieve these goals.
The latest data show that our economy grew at the rate of 8.4% in 2010-11. This was a creditable performance when seen in the background of a crisis-ridden world economy. But, growth in the current fiscal year is likely to be lower, between 7 and 7.5%, in a large measure due to the continuing uncertainty in the global economic environment.
Inflation was a persistent problem during the course of the last year, particularly regarding food items. Our government undertook several measures to ease the supply constraints that were a cause for rising prices. This coupled with the policy of monetary tightening that the Reserve Bank adopted has led to a continuous decrease in inflationary pressure in primary food articles in recent weeks. The overall inflation has also eased. But, monetary tightening together with a difficult global economic environment, particularly the lingering Euro Zone crisis, has impacted the rate of growth adversely.
As I had stated in the last Conference of Chief Secretaries, and have also said on a number of other occasions, the key to controlling inflation in food articles on a sustainable basis lies in increasing agricultural production and productivity. And it is here that the State governments have a crucial role to play. I am happy that together we have succeeded in achieving a very high growth rate of 6.6% in agriculture during 2010-11. I would like to compliment the State Governments for their positive role in this achievement. I would also urge them to give even more attention to areas such as modernization of the agricultural research and agricultural extension system, public investment in agriculture, and reform of the agricultural marketing system and practices. As an enabling provision, the creation of modern storage capacity including cold chains and post-harvest storage have now been included under the Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Infrastructure i.e. Viability Gap Funding Scheme. There is a need to review and amend the Agriculture Produce Marketing Act to enable farmers to bring their products to retail outlets and also allow retailers to directly purchase from the farmers. This would bring better remuneration to farmers, check wastage and allow competitive prices to prevail in retail markets.
The Central government has announced a National Manufacturing Policy with the objective of enhancing the share of manufacturing in our GDP to 25 per cent within a decade and the creation of 100 million jobs thereon. The policy is based on the principle of industrial development in partnership with the states. The Central government will create the enabling policy framework, provide incentives for infrastructure development on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis through appropriate financing instruments, and the State governments will be encouraged to adopt the instrumentalities provided for in the policy. National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs) are an important instrumentality in the new Policy framework. I would urge the Chief Secretaries to carefully consider how the States can take the maximum advantage of the National Manufacturing Policy.
We also need to equip a large number of our people with skills so that they can engage productively in the processes of nation building, and at the same time earn decent incomes to lead a fulfilling life. By the year 2018, India will need about 26 crore skilled people. This demand cannot be met unless we undertake ambitious programs for development of skills. Our government has taken a number of steps for skill development which have met with modest success. We intend and we must to do more. I am also aware of the good work being done by some States in skill development. I would urge all States to show leadership in this vital area of national endeavour.
The introduction of the Food Security Bill is a historic step that our government has taken. The Bill not only provides for an entitled quantity of food-grains to every household from the Public Distribution System, it also contains provisions for food of appropriate nutritional standards, free of charge, for pregnant and lactating mothers and children up to the age of 14. These legal entitlements can become a reality only if we reform our Public Distribution System, and reform it effectively and with speed. I would urge you to pay urgent attention to end to end computerization of the Public Distribution System. We should be in a position to effectively implement the Food Security Bill by the time it is enacted as an Act of Parliament.
I would like to touch two other issues that have been flagged in the earlier conferences as well. These are issues of continuing importance and ones that require persistent efforts for their resolution. I would mention them only briefly because I believe they are fairly well understood.
First is the concern with internal security. I must compliment the States for ensuring that the situation on the internal security front remains by and large stable in the last one year. But, serious challenges and threats, primarily from left wing extremism, cross border terrorism, religious fundamentalism and ethnic violence still persist. These need to be tackled with a firm and effective and yet sensitive hand. The Central government will continue providing all possible assistance to the States in their efforts in this direction.
The infrastructure deficit is yet another important area of continuing concern. This deficit still remains large, and it is one of the critical constraints that limit our growth processes. We need to find innovative ways to bridge the infrastructure deficit. While we have made some progress in the last few years, a lot more remains to be done. I would request the States to pay more attention to the area of infrastructure development, laying particular emphasis on roads, highways and irrigation facilities.
Disaster management is yet another area which requires systemic attention.
I understand that innovation will be one of the areas that you will discuss in this Conference. Our government believes that innovation has a critical role to play in our endeavors to meet the diverse challenges that our country faces. It is for this reason that we wish to make the current decade a Decade of Innovation. We must encourage innovation and creativity and come up with novel solutions to pressing national problems. We must build an enabling environment in our country for innovation to flourish. Our government has constituted a National Innovation Council to formulate strategies for inclusive innovation and prepare a Roadmap for Innovation 2010-20. We are also taking a number of other initiatives to encourage innovative thinking among our children and among our youth. To promote innovation, the 13th Finance Commission has provided a grant of Rs 1 crore to each District in our country. I would urge the Chief Secretaries to ensure adequate attention to encouraging innovation and creativity in their respective States.
I hope the spirit of innovation and creativity will permeate your deliberations. While each one of you will surely gain from the exchange of ideas and views, one good test of the success of the Conference will lie in the practical suggestions for policies and programs improvement that you can come up with. I wish your discussions all the very best.”
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