Reviving the growth momentum of the economy which has been affected by the global financial crisis is the top most priority of the government, finance minister Pranab Mukerjee told a press conference today.
While government will have to keep in mind fiscal prudence when stepping up public expenditure and speeding up reforms, he said, he will seek lowering of lending rats by banks to stimulate economic growth.
''Industry and business have been hurt by the cost of finance and its easy availability. While much has been done in the last 8 months and international capital flows have resumed, the cost and the speed with which finance can be accessed remains a matter of concern. One of the first steps I propose to take is to meet bankers and get them committed to a more benign plan of action,'' he said.
He said the government will seek to bring down the cost of funds for business and boost credit availability in order to revive growth.
"One of the first steps I propose to take is to meet bankers and get them committed to a more benign plan of action," Mukherjee said.
''The government will have to focus on implementing and strengthening its infrastructure investments. These concerns will be addressed with a view to impart further momentum for an early return to the high growth path of recent years,'' he said, adding, ''The pipeline of infrastructure projects will be re-appraised and made more robust. Where necessary, policy and procedures will be calibrated to give a boost to infrastructure spending.''
''Restoring growth and employment would not have been possible without increased spending funded by incremental borrowing. This would need to be further continued in 2009-10 (the current year). However, we are equally committed to the process of fiscal consolidation over a period of say 2 to 3 years,'' he said.
He said the government will seize the opportunity for pushing long pending reform measures, including those in the the area of financial sector and real economy, to make the economy more competitive and the economic regulatory and oversight system more efficient, quick and responsive to global developments.
''As you know, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act Amendment was passed by Parliament recently. We propose to bring this into force to make India's anti-money laundering regime stronger,'' he said.
"Sustained stimulus to growth can be harnessed by the next round of economic reforms," he said, adding that the government has a broad plan of action to restore economic growth.
"I will get additional inputs when I have my pre-budget consultations with different stakeholders," the finance minister said.
The new government is required to present the Budget within 45 days of coming to power. ''We will adhere to this schedule and propose to present the Budget in the first week of July,'' he said, adding, ''The regular budget 2009-10 exercises are underway in full swing.''