India can add 1.5 percent growth from its east: Jaitley

Kolkata: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the country could add 1-1.5 percent more to its growth through infrastructural investment and increased public spending, and exuded confidence that the enhanced growth could come from the eastern states. "Today, while the world faces a grave crisis, we in India are still managing, and even the World Bank yesterday (Thursday) asserted that among the large economies, India is the fastest growing," Jaitley said while addressing the Bengal Global Business Summit here. "Within this fastest growing economy, how do we improve our growth rate a little more? If in an adversity India has the potential to grow at 7 and 7.5 percent, is it impossible for India to add another one and one and a half percent which gives us the cutting edge, adds to our jobs, which enables us in poverty alleviation, which gives us more resources to service the poor?" Jaitley outlined three steps for achieving an enhanced growth. "And I think it's here that India needs to invest a lot more, firstly in its infrastructure. We have for over a year been enhancing a large amount of public spending into infrastructure. We intend to continue with that direction," the minister said. "We need to enhance our public spending into our social infrastructure, and I think there is a third important area. We need to enhance our spending into our rural sector, irrigation, rural roads, rural electrification, because it is this spending which almost brings back instantaneous results." Jaitley said the central government has been following a policy of economically empowering the states, and cited the Finance Commission's recommendation to enhance the money to be given to the states to improve upon their economic potential. "We readily accepted that. Proposals of the state governments now are more rapidly cleared." Iterating that the strength of India lay in its federal polity, and centre-state cooperation mandated by a constitutional structure that binds the Centre and the states, he said conventionally states in the eastern part of India have not grown as rapidly as those in the western part. "States in the western India had achieved a reasonable growth rate, a reasonable base as far as the GDP is concerned. The enhanced one to two percent of India's GDP substantially has to now come from the states in the eastern part of India." "And that is why it is this region, from eastern Uttar Pradesh, to Bihar to West Bengal, to the north east, to Odisha, where the potential for growth is going to be much higher and therefore we have to concentrate for growth in this region," Jaitley added.