Mukherjee seeks to allay fears on inflation, motion defeated

New Delhi, Aug 4: An opposition motion expressing concern over price rise was defeated in the Lok Sabha Thursday, even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured all steps to tame inflation but said there was no need to temper growth for that.

Amid division following voice a vote, Speaker Meira Kumar declared the motion — moved by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha and Janata Dal-United leader — as defeated by 320 votes to 51.

‘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, after it was put to a voice vote and defeated.

‘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 from the motion, while putting it for division.

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 an opposition motion that expresed deep concern over price rise.

The finance minister said in the 1980s, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged slightly above 5 percent, and around 6 percent in the 1990s, which figures were relatively low 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.

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 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.

IANS