India PM calls 8 % economic growth 'ambitious'
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played down hopes Thursday for
the once-booming economy's performance, saying achieving annual eight
percent growth to 2017 would be an "ambitious" achievement.
Singh's muted expectations come after the government earlier this
month cut its growth forecast to just under six percent for this
financial year -- putting Asia's third-largest economy on track for its
worst annual showing in a decade.
"Achieving a target of eight percent growth, following less than six
percent in the first year, is still an ambitious target," he told state
chief ministers meeting in New Delhi to review the government's
2012-2017 economic plan.
Despite moves to liberalise its economy, India still runs on
five-year plans based on the former Soviet Union's central planning
Much of the world would envy even six percent growth. But the pace is
not enough for New Delhi, which says it needs at least nine-to-10
percent expansion to significantly cut poverty and create jobs for a
soaring young workforce.
This year's forecast growth would also be far below the near
double-digit pace India logged before the onset of the global financial
"The country faces many challenges to achieve sustainable growth,"
Singh said the biggest obstacles to expansion were dilapidated
railways, roads, ports and other infrastructure that creates transport
bottlenecks and slows production.
"(Improved) infrastructure is the best guarantee for rapid growth,"
The ruling Congress party had long wanted to make history as the
first government to usher in 10 percent growth. It has been forced to
row back in the face of deepening global financial worries and stubborn