Addressing the full bench of the Planning Commission on Saturday, the Prime Minister said : “The Commission has examined the range of 9 to 9.5% growth which we asked it to consider. It has proposed that we should set the Twelfth Plan target at 9%. In fact the Commission has pointed out that given the uncertainties in the global economy, and the challenges in the domestic economy even a 9% target is feasible only if we can take some difficult decisions.”
He said that the Planning Commission has emphasized the need for achieving 4% growth in agriculture as it would provide broad based income benefits to the rural population and also cushion the price inflationary pressure which could arise if high levels of growth were attempted. The Approach Paper outlines the multiple interventions necessary to achieve agricultural growth objective.” I am happy to inform members that although the Approach Paper talks of achieving 3% agricultural growth in the Eleventh Plan, the Deputy Chairman has informed me that the latest estimates suggest that this will be 3.3%”, he said.
The Approach Paper has drawn attention to the major flagship programmes which were instrumental for promoting inclusiveness in the Eleventh Plan period. “We are spending Rs.1,87,000 crores on these programmes in 2011-12. These programmes will continue in the Twelfth Plan period, but as the paper rightly emphasizes, we need to focus on issues of implementation and governance to improve their effectiveness”, the Prime Minister said.
He stressed on health, education and skill development during the 12th Plan period.
The Approach Paper has pointed out that high growth requires supporting growth in energy and because domestic energy supplies were limited, country’s dependency on energy imports was likely to continue to go up. “In this situation we have to take steps to reduce energy intensity of production processes and also to increase domestic energy supply as quickly as possible. Rational energy pricing will help achieve both objectives even though it may seem difficult to attempt,” he said.
Responding to the rapidly increasing water stress, the Prime Minister suggested evolving a holistic water management policy, more efficient conservation of water and also water use efficiency particularly in the field of agriculture.
“Land acquisition has become highly controversial. The Approach Paper rightly argues that a new legislation is necessary, which strikes an appropriate balance between the need for fair compensation to those whose land is acquired and whose livelihood is disrupted, and the need to ensure that land acquisition does not become an impossible impediment to meeting our needs for infrastructure development, industrial expansion and urbanisation,” he said.
He called for greater investment in infrastructure development. “The Planning Commission has rightly endorsed the importance of the process of fiscal correction announced by the Finance Minister, even if this means that total resources available for the Plan in the short run will be limited. Resource limitations imply the need to prioritise carefully. Some priority areas, e.g., health, education and infrastructure will have to be funded more than others,” he said.
The Prime Minister also called for more efficient use of available resources by engaging the state governments. The Approach Paper made several suggestions, including giving implementing agencies greater amount of freedom , flexibility, promoting convergence between resources from different Plan schemes and the need for much greater attention to capacity building, monitoring and accountability.