Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee held a meeting with different Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to get their inputs for General Budget 2011-12, here today. This was the fourth meeting in the series of pre-Budget consultations held by Finance Minister with the stakeholders of different sectors. First meeting was held on 7th January with the stakeholders of agriculture sector followed by meetings with captains of Indian industry on 11th January and representatives of different trade unions yesterday i.e., 12th January, 2011.

While welcoming the representatives from different Non-Governmental Organizations, the Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee in his opening remarks said that feedback from the grassroots level is very important for effective policy making and for strengthening public accountability. The Minister said that the Indian economy has recovered robustly in 2010-11 from an unprecedented global economic slowdown. He said that it has recorded one of the fastest growth rates in the world and the recovery has been broad based with agriculture, industry and services all contributing to the consolidation of the growth momentum. Though, there are some immediate concerns for economic management arising from inflationary pressures, and from the uncertain external environment, we have the ability to address them, the Minister added.

Shri Mukherjee further said that our main challenge is to sustain this high GDP growth over an extended period of time and find the means to cross the ‘double digit growth barrier’ in the coming years. He said that the objective is to harness this growth to make the development process more inclusive, strengthen food security, improve education opportunities and health facilities both in rural and urban areas. At the same time we are looking to address the weaknesses in our systems, structures and institutions at different levels of governance, he added.

The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said that with development and economic reforms, the focus of economic activity is shifting towards the non-governmental actors and there is a need to create and strengthen an enabling ethos so that individual enterprise can flourish and ordinary citizens can, for most parts, provide for the needs of one another. He further said that the Government has to step in to help those who do not manage to do well for themselves. Shri Mukherjee said that the Government has to safeguard the interests of citizens who are left out in the growth process. It is this balance in policy that we have tried to evolve in the past few years, he added.

While describing the nongovernmental sector as an important stake holder in the development process, Shri Mukherjee said that we are aware that It has been the Government’s endeavour to engage this sector in policy making, to improve the delivery of public goods and services to the people and help in strengthening accountability of public agencies and public officials. He said that the NGO sector in India has done an excellent job for the public cause, for monitoring and evaluating public programmes and services and has also helped directly in the implementation of developmental activities.

Shri Mukherjee later invited the representatives for giving their concrete suggestions which can be operationalised in this year’s budget proposals.

After that the stakeholders from different NGOs gave their suggestions for consideration for General Budget 2011-12.

The representatives from different NGOs who attended the meeting include S/Shri Binju Abraham from PRADAN, Ms. Namrata Bali from SEWA Academy, Swami Atmapriyananda from Ram Krishan Mission, Shri Sandeep Pandey from ASHA, Shri Mohamed Musa from Care India, Shri D.R. Mehta from Jaipur Foot and Swami Agnivesh from Bandhua Mukti Morcha (BMM) among others.

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