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August 15, 2002 | 0955 IST
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Vajpayee for "economic movement" to accelerate growth

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday called for an "economic movement" in the country to achieve 8 per cent growth in the next five years.

Photo: Reuters/B MathurAddressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the Independence Day, Vajpayee said the main objective of the economic reforms initiated by his National Democratic Alliance government is to remove poverty and generate employment.

Stating that the nation was losing Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) annually due to power thefts, Vajpayee wondered how long could the country bear such losses and appealed to all political parties to evolve a consensus on power sector reforms.

"It is not enough for political parties to evolve a consensus [on reforms], the mindset of the common man should also undergo a change," he added.

Stating that an allocation of Rs 55,000 crore (Rs 550 billion) has been made for the highway development project, Vajpayee said his government is committed to improving infrastructure facilities in the country.

He said Rs 60,000-crore (Rs 600 billion) Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yogna has also been launched to connect villages with all-weather roads.

The prime minister said reforms have eliminated queues for domestic cooking gas and telephone connections, while adequate stocks of food grains have seen queues at ration shops vanish.

"Though insufficient rains have increased prices of vegetables, we have ensured that prices of onion do not increase," he said.

Referring to reforms in telecom and information technology sector, the prime minister said: "Who could have imagined that software exports would give us Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 400 billion) annually."

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