Growth needs hard decisions: PM
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SEEKING the people's trust, understanding and co-operation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday justified the government's decisions to raise diesel prices, cap subsidised cooking gas cylinders and allow FDI in multi-brand retail saying they were unavoidable to ensure the country remained on a growth trajectory.
Addressing the nation over television hours after the Trinamool Congress pulled out of the UPA protesting against the reforms, Singh signaled his determination to stick to last week's announcements by emphasising that no government wanted to burden people but "hard decisions" had become necessary to protect the interests of the nation.
"At times, we need to say no to the easy option and say yes to the more difficult one. This happens to be one such occasion. The time has come for hard decisions. For this I need your trust, understanding and your cooperation," he said.
Singh said that the task became even more challenging given that the world economy is facing difficulty with the US and Europe struggling to deal with the economic slowdown and financial crisis. He said India was at a juncture where it needed to revive investor confidence domestically and globally and the decisions taken were necessary for this purpose.
Referring to the diesel price increase, the Prime Minister said "money does not grow on trees" as he underlined that the government could not continue subsidising petroleum products. He maintained that most of the rise in global oil prices was never passed on to the consumer, but this had led to the subsidy on petroleum products increasing significantly. "It was Rs 1 lakh 40 thousand crore last year. If we had not acted, it would have been over Rs 2 lakh crore this year," he said.
Singh, however, pointed out that the total subsidy on petroleum products was still more than what was being spent on health and education together. The inaction would have resulted in a higher fiscal deficit, which would mean an unsustainable increase in government expenditure vis-a-vis government income.
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