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Investment, reforms, economy on fast track, says FM

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Last updated on: June 03, 2004 14:35 IST

The United Progressive Alliance government is committed to implementing economic reforms and will take all steps to 'advance' them, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Thursday in Mumbai.

"I have come here to give a direct message that the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is committed to the path of reforms and will take steps to advance them," Chidambaram told a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to the country's financial capital.

The finance minister said he could foresee investment in India picking up, especially in the power sector. In other areas too investment is set to rise, he asserted.

Budget in first week of July

The Union Budget for 2004-05 will be presented in Parliament in the first week of July, Chidambaram said.

"The Budget will be presented in the first week of July and we hope to get it passed by the first week of August," he said.

'Economy set to grow'

He said he had interaction with brokers, Securities and Exchange Board of India, foreign institutional investors and bankers, where he clarified their doubts over the government's determination to carry forward the economic reforms process.

Chidambaram said that the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government was also discussed during the meetings.

He said that industry captains, FIIs and other market intermediaries were happy and satisfied with the CMP, which he said will take the country on to the path of good economic growth.

"We also remain deeply committed to fiscal prudence and discipline," Chidambaram said.

"My impression after the two days of meetings in Mumbai is that practically everybody was satisfied that CMP will take the reform process forward and make the Indian economy a stronger economy," he said.

He would soon make up for his inability to meet those from mutual funds, either in Delhi or Mumbai.

'Investment will rise'

Asserting that there were now positive signs in the economy, Chidambaram said investment had started picking up after a prolonged period of 'investment drought.'

He said there were clear signs of substantial investments taking place in the next 10 months, especially in the power sector.

"Bankers see a rush of investments in the next 10 months and thereafter. In the last 10 weeks, there were financial closure for six power projects with generating capacity of 3,700 MW," he said, adding there were 10 more projects in the pipeline with capacity of 6,867 MW.

Stressing that investments coming up in infrastructure was a 'good sign,' the finance minister said: "There are other projects in the pipeline in other sectors as well."

Hinting that the government would step up investment in manufacturing and agriculture sectors, he said: "I regard myself the 'minister for investment.' My job is to promote investment."

In the next few months the power sector will see major investments, he said.

"The message is to carry forward the reforms and maintain fiscal prudence and discipline."

Wrapping up his two-day visit aimed at clearing lingering doubts on the CMP, Chidambaram said he had met all players -- SEBI, stock exchanges, brokers, LIC, UTI, GIC, bankers, FIIs and leading industrialists.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai