The National Executive Committee congratulates the NDA Government for having succeeded in bringing back the economy on the growth path with appropriate and bold policy measures initiated during the last couple of years under the able and visionary leadership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. The party would like to place on record its appreciation of the government's success in containing price level at below four per cent during the last one year, for maintaining comfortable food stock at over 32 million tonnes, stable foreign exchange reserves at above 37 billion dollars, stable rate of exchange, for achieving growth of industrial production at around eight percent and strengthening purchasing power of common man. The party appreciates sincere efforts made by the government in translating the economic package contained in the Chennai Declaration into the governmental policy measures through the recently presented Central Budget - specially, for its emphasis on development of social sector and infrastructures along with continued attention towards agriculture and rural development but at the same time making an attempt to initiate fiscal discipline. Infact the party is happy with the government's performance during the first six months after coming back to power.
The BJP is of the firm belief that sustained and broad based growth of the agricultural sector is essential for alleviating poverty, generating income and employment, assuring food security and sustaining market support to domestic industry and services - thereby, leading to overall economic growth and prosperity. In this context the government's proposal to step up credit flow to agriculture through institutional channels such as commercial banks, cooperative banks, and rural banks by 20 per cent to a level of Rs 51,500 crore in 2000-01 is a welcome step. It may specially be noted the government's proposal to distribute additional 75 lakh Kisan Credit Cards by March 2001 as against 50 lakh credit cards distributed in the previous year, Micro Finance Development Fund to cover self help groups for developing micro enterprises, specially the ones set up by the vulnerable sections including women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, proposal to construct 25 lakh dwelling units in rural areas and granting Rs. 5,000 crore for overall rural development -including rural roads with outlay of Rs. 2500 crores-under the Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana.
The party is of the firm view that fruits of developmental efforts should be extended to socially vulnerable sections, which in fact is the focal point of Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya's philosophy and the party's commitment to Antyodaya. Without improvement in quality of life of those who have been kept out of developmental process during the last five decades, development per se is meaningless. Economic reforms would be purposeful and effective only when it improves overall quality of life including people below the poverty line. In this context, the government's initiatives to raise literacy rate to 75 per cent by 2005 from the present level of 51 per cent under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, objective to provide drinking water facilities in all rural habitations in the next five years, insurance cover to poor people under Janashree Bima Yojana, doubling allocation of foodgrains from 10 kgs to 20 kgs for families below poverty line, raising free foodgrains to senior citizens from 10 kgs to 15 kgs under the Annapoorna Yojana, proposal to set up a task force to suggest ways and means for empowering women, raising income tax exemption limit by Rs. 5,000 for women etc. are steps in right direction.
Similarly the government's proposal to ease and step up credit flow, setting up of fund for technological upgradation and proposal to strengthen marketing support to products of the small-scale sector and Khadi & Village industries are bound to promote the decentralised sector with improved employment opportunities.
The party would like to place on record its appreciation of the government's proposal to strengthen and modernise defence preparedness, which has become a national priority in view of the continued tension on the borders. The record rise in defence outlay by Rs. 13,000 crore is timely - specially in view of the Kargil operations.
Ever since the Vajpayee Government has assumed office, knowledge-based industries specially, information technology, bio-technology and pharmaceuticals have been getting due attention of the government. Further fiscal incentives proposed in the Budget would help the country in emerging as a dominant player in the knowledge-based sector-with, of course, acceleration in employment opportunities. Similarly the concept of venture capital would help people with ideas but without capital in turning their dream into reality as entrepreneurs. Attempt to simplify indirect taxes through introduction of CENVAT is also a laudable measure.
Disinvestment and privatization is essential in order to professionalise management of the public sector units so as to improve productivity, reduce operational losses and maximise profit earnings. Moreover, such a policy is perfectly in tune with the approach of the party right from the beginning to the Chennai Declaration that government has to contend with its role as a facilitator of economic development rather than a controller of the economy. In this context the government's policy declaration to reduce equity holding to below 26 per cent in non-strategic areas and 33 percent in the nationalised banks the proceeds of which would be used for social sector development and retiring debt with of course, full protection to workers, would have full backing of the party.
In the background of the present fiscal imbalance where total annual revenue collections falls short of even debt servicing by around ten per cent - let alone being able to meet day-today expenditure and developmental needs and at the same time, need to mobilise resource for the social sector and infrastructure development, there is no other option except to rationalise subsidy expenditure. While the party is in favour of continued subsidy support to the needy sections, others have to minimise their dependence on the government in the overall interests of the economy. Raising of issue prices under PDS, hike in prices of fertilizers, kerosene and cooking gas should be viewed from this angle.
While management of the economy by the Government has been laudable, there are areas of concern, which must receive the urgent attention of the Government. For the national executive of the party, the fiscal situation continues to be worrisome. It is true that India has lived with unsustainable fiscal deficits for almost two decades, which have added to its debt stock and put unbearable burden of debt servicing on the country. Interest payment alone on loans taken in the past has gone up to over one lakh crore rupees in 2000-2001 that is, nearly fifty percent of the revenue collections. The country cannot live on borrowed money indefinitely. The fiscal situation, therefore, has to be brought under control. The party would like to advise the Government to reduce its establishment expenditure more pro-actively, instill a sense of austerity in the entire system of Government, avoid conspicuous consumption and wasteful expenditure. The party calls upon BJP Ministers in Government to set an example in economy and austerity.
Another area of concern is the management of globalisation. The national executive of the party is fully aware of the commitments of the Government of India under the WTO agreement. The removal of quantitative restrictions on imports had to be done under the agreement. However, tariff protection should be provided to Indian products wherever necessary and Indian agriculture and industry must be rendered all help to become globally competitive. The national executive calls upon the Government to initiate a series of steps which will make Indian economy globally competitive and enable its farmers and entrepreneurs to hold their own in the face of stiff global competition. The party also urges upon Government to stead-fastly protect national interests in the international fora especially the WTO. The party notes with satisfaction the recent decision of the Central cabinet to reimpose import restrictions in case domestic industrial and agricultural products are adversely affected due to dumping.
The party urges the government to remove bottlenecks in the way of successful implementation of its pro-poor policies. In this connection, the role of the Panchayati Raj Institutions has to be specially emphasized. The party also calls upon its cadres to closely monitor the implementation of the welfare and developmental schemes and ensure that the monies are spent on the programmes for which they are meant. It is only through this that the ailment which afflicts the delivery system of these programmes can be corrected.
The real challenge to the effective implementation of the second-generation reform is the state of economy of the State Governments. Unfortunately, some of the state governments indulge in populistic measures at the cost of their own economic health. The National Executive Committee earnestly hope that state governments would cooperate with the centre in implementation of economic reforms and conserve resource for development of the much needed social sector and infrastructures in their states.
It is the considered view of the party that economic reforms must impact on the quality of life of the poorest of the poor in order to become acceptable. This should be the joint responsibility of the Government and the party. The party would be failing in its duty if it does not provide the necessary cooperation to the Government. It will be failing in its duty equally if it does not interpret the policies of the Government of the people. It is this synergy between the party and the Government, so fruitfully established over the last two years, which must be strengthened and improved upon in future. The party calls upon its members to go out to the people and explain to them the various programmes and policies of the Government and become active partners in ensuring that the fruits of the development reach the masses. This would defeat the disinformation campaign launched by the frustrated opposition parties. The BJP National Executive Committee would like to assure the people that the NDA government would implement the policy commitments made at the time of the last Lok Sabha elections.