Asserting that inflation is easing gradually but is still a problem that needs to be brought down on a priority basis, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the government is taking steps to deal with factors responsible for the slowdown.
Addressing a joint session of Parliament for the first time as President, Mukherjee said the Indian economy is currently experiencing slower growth.
"The Real GDP grew by 5.4 percent in the first half of the current fiscal year. This is significantly lower than the average of around eight percent in the last decade. Our slower growth is the consequence of a combination of global and domestic factors. My government is taking steps to deal with the factors responsible for the slowdown. Inflation is easing gradually but is still a problem," said President Mukherjee.
Stating that in recent months, there have been positive developments too, President Mukherjee said: "There has been a moderation in core inflation and recovery in growth is likely. Policy measures announced during the year have also restored optimism at home and abroad."
"My government has announced a roadmap for fiscal consolidation by containing the current year's fiscal deficit at 5.3 percent of the GDP. The government is also working with state governments to reach a consensus on the Goods and Services Tax," he added.
President Mukherjee said the average annual growth rate of GDP in the 11th Plan, which concluded last year, was eight percent.
"A notable feature of the Plan was the progress towards achieving inclusiveness with a faster decline in poverty than in the previous decade. The National Development Council has recently adopted the 12th Five Year Plan, which further sharpens the focus on faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth," said President Mukherjee.
"The 12th Plan recognises that growth outcomes will depend upon the extent to which we are able to take some difficult decisions. The Plan proposes to consolidate Centrally Sponsored Schemes into a smaller number and increase their flexibility. This will give states the much- needed freedom to experiment and innovate," he added.
President Mukherjee further said there is reason for cheer on the agricultural front.
"The growth in agriculture and allied sectors during the 11th plan was 3.7 percent compared to 2.4 percent in the 10th Plan," he added.
President Mukherjee said that the relentless efforts of farmers coupled with conducive policies of the government have resulted in record foodgrain production for two consecutive years with last year achieving a peak of 260 million tons.
"This year, despite erratic and deficient rainfall, it is projected that we will produce more than 250 million tons of foodgrains," said President Mukherjee.
"Our foodgrains position is, therefore, comfortable. The total stock of foodgrains with the public sector agencies was 662 lakh tons on 1st February 2013, including 307 lakh tons of wheat and over 353 lakh tons of rice. My government is committed to enacting the National Food Security Bill, having received the recommendations of the Standing Committee," he added.
President Mukherjee further said several specific initiatives have been undertaken under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, and added that sugarcane and cotton production have touched record levels in 2011-12.
"My government will continue to lay emphasis on the development of rainfed and degraded areas during the 12th Five Year Plan. An outlay of ' 29,296 crore has been earmarked under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme during the plan period," he said. (ANI)