New Delhi, Aug 4: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday assured parliament all possible steps to tame inflation and said there was no need to temper growth even as an amendment motion to condemn the government over price rise was defeated 320:51.
The Lok Sabha first passed a motion moved by the opposition with government consent that expressed concern over price rise. But an amendment moved by the Left parties seeking to censure the government over high inflation was defeated in a division.
‘That despite repeated discussions on price rise in the house, the burden of price rise on the common man is continuing,’ Meira Kumar said, reading the motion which was moved by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Yashwant Sinha and Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav.
‘Expressing deep concern over price rise, this house calls upon the government to take immediate effective steps to check inflation that will give relief to the common man,’ the speaker added.
She later put to division an amendment to the motion, moved by Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta, seeking to incorporate into it ‘failure’ of the government to control inflation. This amendment was defeated 320 votes to 51.
Earlier, replying to the debate Thursday, Mukherjee sought to assure parliament that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government was taking all possible steps to tackle price rise, but said there was no need to moderate growth in a bid to tame inflation.
‘There is no inherent contradiction between inflation and growth,’ Mukherjee said in reply to a debate in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, on the opposition motion that expresed deep concern over price rise.
The finance minister said in the 1980s, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth had averaged slightly above 5 percent and around 6 percent in the 1990s which were low when compared with the growth of around 8-8.5 percent now.
‘Was inflation low at that time? No!’ Mukherjee said, adding several steps were needed to tame inflation and that the house — both the members of the treasury and opposition — must collectively ensure these measures are allowed to be taken.
‘India was never known to have a high growth rate. We have brought inflation down from 22 percent to around 8 percent,’ he said, noting the previous Lok Sabha had debated the price rise issue eight times and the present Lok Sabha had discussed it four times.
His comments came against the backdrop of India’s annual rate of inflation based on wholesale prices inching up to 9.44 percent for June from 9.06 percent for the week before and the opposition’s demand that the government either tames price rise or quits.
Sinha, a former finance minister himself, had Wednesday said the opposition will not remain a mute spectator to price rise that was imposing a huge burden on the average citizen. ‘This house will not tolerate it and say go, go.’
Mukherjee said at least four important bills, including those on insurance, pension, and goods and service tax, were pending before the house and said the cooperation of all the members, irrespective of the parties they represented, was required to see them through.
‘You can’t say nothing has been done,’ the finance minister said on opposition charges that the government was ineffective in taking action against price rise. ‘Something has been done. Tell us, something more has to be done and we will fully agree.’
Mukherjee said it was also not proper to say people were dying of starvation, adding not only had the government constantly increased procurent prices to help farmers, but was also giving wheat and rice to all the needy at heavily subsidised rates.