India headed towards double-digit growth in next fiscal: Prez

Mumbai: Upbeat on the Indian economy and its growth trajectory, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today said the country's gross domestic product (GDP) was headed towards double-digit growth in the next fiscal, reports PTI.

"This fiscal year, we are confident that our nation's economy will grow at about 9%. Next year, we should be on a sustained growth path of 9%-10%," Ms Patil said at a function to kick-off public sector Central Bank of India's centenary year celebrations here.

According to government data, the Indian economy grew by an average of 8.9% during the first-half of the current fiscal or the April-September period.

This has led many, including the finance ministry and rating agencies, to upwardly revise their growth estimates for the year (FY'11).

Ms Patil said post-financial crisis, India's economic recovery was quicker because of its ability to cope with external disturbances, in spite of being well-integrated with the global economy.

Banks will have to play a pivotal role in the growth story and the first priority for lenders should be to strengthen themselves to support a vibrant and inclusive economy," the president said.

Stressing on the financial inclusion agenda, she asked banks to take a "holistic approach" in the roll-out of the programme keeping in mind the different financial needs of the target customers.

"Issues like preferential interest rates for the poor and self-help groups in rural areas, as well as extended loan tenures that help them stay invested should be looked into," she said in her address.

Ms Patil also called upon Indian banks to achieve greater size to become "among the top global players" and listed efficiency as the key which will help the institutions expand.

The integrated global economy should "spur Indian banks to attain high standards, so that they can compete with the best in the world," Ms Patil said.


Centre for speeding up onion imports, asks states to act against hoarders

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday asked states to take stringent action against hoarders and directed the commerce ministry to speed up onion imports as part of measures to ease the crisis over spiralling onion prices, reports PTI.

Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, who is personally monitoring the situation, has told commerce secretary Rahul Khullar to "speed up" onion imports to augment domestic availability and check rising prices of onions, which are ruling at Rs70-Rs85 per kg in retail markets across the country.

Official sources said the cabinet secretary has also asked the Railway Board to provide more rakes for expeditious movement of onions from producing regions to different parts of the country.

"State governments have been asked to take stringent action against hoarders," sources said.

The cabinet secretary will review the situation on Thursday with the secretaries of the agriculture and consumers affairs ministries, they said.

As part of measures to rein in onion prices, the government has already banned exports and abolished import duty on the politically sensitive commodity.

Due to the measures taken by the government, wholesale prices of onions have been declining since yesterday, though the impact is yet to be seen in retail markets.


Food inflation back in double digits at 12.13%

New Delhi: Food inflation surged back into double-digit territory at 12.13% for the week ended 24th December as the prices of vegetables, particularly onions, rose for the third consecutive week, reports PTI.

Food inflation registered a sharp increase during the week under review from 9.46% in the previous week to enter double digits for the first time since 13th November, when it stood at 10.15%.

On an annual basis, onions became costlier by 33.48%, whereas on a week-on-week basis, the increase was 4.56%, government data showed.

While fruits and milk became 20.15% and 17.83% more expensive year-on-year, vegetables became 15.54% dearer.

The sudden jump in food inflation could prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to hike key rates in its policy review meeting next month.

RBI deputy governor Subir Gokarn had yesterday hinted that more tightening monetary measures were likely to be taken by the apex bank at its next policy review, as headline inflation is not easing as fast as the apex bank would like and upside risks still remain high.

“Inflation is not easing as we would like it to be... Upside risks to inflation are still high,” he had said.

Overall inflation for November was at 7.48%, down from 8.58% in the previous month.


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