High prices: India calls for improved farm productivity at G-24

"Increased investment in agriculture and productivity should be the strategic priority of G-24 to cool prices and provide food security to our people. There is a need to ensure transparency in commodity markets," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a meeting of G-24 finance ministers on Thursday

Washington: Terming high global commodity prices a 'grave threat, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has called for developing countries to increase their investments in agriculture to improve crop productivity, reports PTI.

"The recent commodity and food price rise and their volatility constitute a grave threat to economic growth and food security in our economies," Mr Mukherjee said at a meeting of G-24 finance ministers here last evening.

He took over as the new chairman of the group from South African finance minister Pravin J Gordhan toward the end of the meeting yesterday.

The G-24 grouping comprises 24 developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America. It aims to ensure increased representation and participation of developing countries in negotiations on the reform of the international monetary system.

Economic development and poverty alleviation, he said, is a challenge and the next few months would be crucial for the global economy.

"Increased investment in agriculture and productivity should be the strategic priority of G-24 to cool prices and provide food security to our people. There is a need to ensure transparency in commodity markets," he said.

Mr Mukherjee further said the G-24 should continue to push for more ambitious progress on reform of the governance mechanisms of international financial institutions (IFIs).

"The multilateral development banks need to also mobilise more resources to increase their assistance to low income and other developing countries, including finding ways of expanding their lending capacity, so that development finance is not neglected," he said.

The Indian finance minister also highlighted the need for building infrastructure in developing countries to promote growth.

"Another strategic priority that I hope to see focused action (on) is on the development of infrastructure in our countries. Gaps in infrastructure remain significant bottlenecks to growth," he said.

India offers huge opportunity for investment in infrastructure. Its 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) envisages an investment of $1 trillion on infrastructure to enable the country to maintain its high economic growth rate.

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Danger of currency war if economic crisis deepens: FM

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee pointed out that the currencies used in BRICS countries should be widely appreciated and should be taken into account while determining the ingredients of SDR maintained by the IMF, as these nations' contributions to global output and the economy is increasingly substantially

Washington: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has warned the international community that there is danger of a currency war if the ongoing economic crisis deepens, reports PTI.

Such a currency war can be avoided through dialogue and not through competitive devaluations, Mr Mukherjee stressed at a crowded press conference of finance ministers of BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa at the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) here on Thursday.

"Yes, if the crisis deepens further and there is greater volatility in financial flows, there is an increased risk of this (currency war) happening," Mr Mukherjee said in response to a question.

"But our view is that if such tensions arise, it should be eased through the dialogue and not through competitive devaluations," he said.

Mr Mukherjee pointed out the currencies used in BRICS countries should be widely appreciated and should be taken into account while determining the ingredients of special drawing rights (SDR) maintained by the IMF, as these nations' contributions to global output and the economy is increasingly substantially.

"But we are not suggesting right now, because there are many other factors which ought to be taken into account, including free convertibility and other things which are not uniform, but the importance of these currencies has increased," Mr Mukherjee said in response to a question.

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