IN his first ever formal interaction with media persons today the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has said that as per his Party’s manifesto, his Govt is committed to present the Budget 2009 within 45 days and it will be presented in the first week of July. The Budget exercise is already underway in full swing, he added. Reviving the growth momentum of our economy which has been affected by the global financial crisis is the top most priority of this Government. The fiscal prudence has to be kept in mind while taking steps for reviving the economy, he observed.

The FM said that the Govt is assessing the impact of three doses of economic stimulus announced in December, January and in the Interim Budget. ”Sustained stimulus to growth can be harnessed by the next round of economic reforms. We have a broad plan of action in mind. I will get additional inputs when I have my pre-budget consultations with different stakeholders. All this will be distilled into a concrete short-term and medium-term vision and strategy for India’s economic growth,” he said.

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Industry and business have been hurt by the cost of finance and its easy availability. While much has been done in the last eight 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, revealed the FM.

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. 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. However, the Govt is equally committed to the process of fiscal consolidation over a period of say 2 to 3 years, he stated.

The reforms planned may include measures in 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. 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 underlined.

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