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Duty sops to please middle-class: Cong

January 08, 2004 19:37 IST

Dubbing as "pre-election" sops the government's decision to slash customs duties on various non-agricultural goods, the Congress Part on Thursday said this has been done with the sole objective of appeasing middle class citizens ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Cell phones, air travel, PCs to be cheaper

"They are pre-poll sops to attract a large number of middle class people. Whatever is happening is for the polls," party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told reporters in reply to questions.

Expressing serious concern over the declining rate of investment in key sectors including agriculture and industry, AICC Secretary Jairam Ramesh said what the country needed is investment and not divestment to generate more employment and achieve higher rate of economic growth.

"Both public and private sector investment have been on a downward slide in the past five years as compared to the years when the Congress was in power....Overall investment rate has fallen from a peak of about 27 per cent of GDP in 1995-96 to around 23 per cent in 2003-04", Ramesh said.

Contesting the BJP-led NDA government's claim of "feel good and feel great" factor, he said the foreign exchange reserves had gone up because there was no domestic investment.

He said low investment has led to the appreciable deceleration of employment growth in the organised sector in the past five years of BJP rule as compared to the earlier period and suggested more domestic investment to achieve higher economic growth.

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