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'Divestment=Rebirth of economy'

Last updated on: June 12, 2009 13:54 IST

Planning Commission member Saumitra Chaudhuri said on Friday disinvestment in public sector enterprises is not about just raising resources but regeneration of economy as well.

"Disinvestment to my mind has merit. It revitalises the economy. We are not simply disinvesting to raise resources, disinvestment is also a vital part of economic regeneration," the newly-appointed Chaudhuri told PTI in his first interview to the media after taking over as a member of the commission.

Earlier, President Pratibha Patil while spelling out the government's polices had said in her address to joint sitting of Parliament that "our fellow citizens have every right to own part of the shares of public sector companies, while the government retains majority shareholding control".

Commenting on fiscal deficit, Chaudhuri, who was a member of the PMEAC before joining commission said, "Fiscal deficit . . .should not become too much. We have to look at the debt part also. . .debt should not be a burden on our expenditure."

"I think last year (fiscal deficit) was very large, we should lower it, direction should be economic recovery particularly in the second half of the year," he said.

Asked about when he sees economy recovering, Chaudhuri sounded confident and said, "Recovery is already happening. I think recovery would be more pronounced in the second half, October onwards."

Talking about the challenges, Chaudhuri said one of the key challenges before the Plan panel is restoring the momentum of growth -- inclusive growth. He also listed improving infrastructure, creating new income opportunities and employments, improving the quality of health and education as other big challenges facing the Planning Commission.

On mid-term appraisal of the 11th Five-Year Plan, he said, "A work plan will be worked out for mid-term appraisal."

Earlier Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had also supported disinvestment of PSUs stating, "If there are certain people who think that there are certain shortcomings in that (disinvestment programme). . .those could be sorted out by discussions."

"The policies discussed in President's address and one of those is . . .disinvestments. . . I think those would continue," Ahluwalia after his re-appointment as deputy chairman of the commission had said.

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