Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Jan 27 India is on course to notching up a rapidly rising trajectory of economic growth despite the global economic crisis, returning to a healthy nine percent by 2011-2012, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Tuesday.
Ahluwalia told a group of top-flight British investors, bankers and executives in London that in his view, India today was the single most attractive destination for investors.
In remarks highlighting India's economic achievements on the 61st Republic Day, he said it was "very clear" to the Planning Commission that India's growth rate for 2009-10 will be above seven percent — possibly around the 7.3 percent mark — rising to eight percent in 2010-11 and nine percent the year after.
"If you take the growth rate of 6.7 percent for 2008-09, and 7.3 in 2009-10, you're still talking about seven percent over a period of two years, something we can take some satisfaction from," Ahluwalia told a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
"In the last year of the 11th plan period, 2011-12, we hope to get back to nine percent. We have developed our supply-side capability to grow at nine percent. Not too many countries have done it — Japan, Korea and China did it."
"There is a view that you enter a high growth stage when you achieve seven percent growth over several years. We haven't entered the 20-year stage, but we are certainly about to enter a 10-year stage of over seven percent," Ahluwalia told an audience that included Tata UK director Anwar Hasan, Arup Group Global Transport Market chairman Terry Hill and the CEOs of several British companies.
Ahluwalia said India's strategy to counter an expected slowdown in export demand is to boost long-term investments in infrastructure in airports, telecommunications, power, railways, roads and ports — triggered by government spending.
"On macro-parameters, if someone was looking for a place to invest, it would be very difficult to find a country that is more attractive from an investor point of view and credit rating point of view than India."
Ahluwalia said India's fiscal deficit now is better than the US and Britain and drew a qualitative difference on the sources of the deficit, saying it was different from deficits that arose out of unsustainable government subsidies.
"If you are tolerating a deficit in order get investments in infrastructure going, which would otherwise constraint your growth, then that's somewhat different. The only large economy growing faster than India is China. Hopefully one of these days we'll catch up with them," he said.