New Delhi: Underlining that the country's economy is passing through difficult times, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday stressed the need for increasing investment across sectors and creation of an enterprise and investment-friendly climate. He said the country was facing only a temporary downturn that "we should correct as quickly as possible".
"I wish to emphasise the need for boosting investment across sectors to help us emerge from the existing difficult situation," he said inaugurating 8th Civil Services Day function in Delhi. The Prime Minister said the government has taken a major initiative in setting up the Cabinet Committee on Investment for fast-tracking industrial and infrastructural projects.
"The Committee has made encouraging progress. But much more needs to be done, especially for building a climate that is perceived to be friendly to enterprise and investment," he said asking the bureaucrats to give maximum possible attention to it. Singh said in the last two decades or so, the role of the government has undergone a major transformation in many sectors of the economy.
"We have moved far away from the command and control economy of the earlier times. Ensuring good governance and managing the economy today are complex tasks," said the Prime Minister. "How to ensure that our Civil Services have the required sets of skills to manage this complexity is a major challenge before us. I would urge you to consider ways and means of meeting this challenge," he said.
The country's economy slipped to a decade's low of 5 per cent in 2012-13. The economy growth was 6.2 per cent during 2011-12. Finance Minister P Chidambaram has proposed to bring down fiscal deficit to 4.8 per cent of GDP in 2013-14 from 5.2 per cent estimated in the previous fiscal. The Prime Minister said the officers in the Civil Services need to be provided top class training early in their careers to equip them with the tools necessary to understand the underlying logic and complexities of governance and economic systems.
Singh said agriculture sector was critical for strengthening rural economy and suggested that "the best and brightest" civil servants should come in this field. "The subjects of strengthening the rural economy and expanding employment opportunities in rural areas are vast and complex. However, the criticality of agriculture to good performance of the rural economy is obvious...
"I do wish to point out that some states should perhaps give greater attention to this vital sector of our economy, especially in the areas of agricultural research and extension services and selection of officers in their agriculture departments. The agriculture sector deserves the best and brightest of civil servants," he said.
The Prime Minister emphasised on the need to put concerted efforts for developing skills in young men and women, both in rural and urban areas, to enable them to gain productive employment and to reap advantage of country's potential demographic dividends.