Unpopular austerity measures on anvil: Pranab

New Delhi: Citing deteriorating global economic situation and its impact on India, a worried government today announced that it would resort to "unpopular" austerity measures to deal with fiscal problems. At the same time, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee hastened to add that there was no need for pressing of "panic button" as India`s growth story is intact.

He told the Rajya Sabha that the government needed to deal with difficult situation in wake of the rising prices of the crude oil in international market and said efforts would be made to push growth which declined to a disappointing level of 6.9 per cent in 2011-12. Mukherjee, who was replying to a debate on Finance Bill at a time when the BSE sensex dipped below the psychological level of 16,000 mainly on account of global factors, cited this as an example of how the international crisis was impacting India. The House later returned the bill marking completion of the three-stage budgetary exercise for 2012-13 by Parliament.

"This is a difficult world, international situation is difficult. Country after country is facing major economic crisis," he said. Highlighting the fiscal difficulties being faced by the government, Mukherjee said, "somebody has pointed…that I am going to take a little bit of unpopular steps. I am going to issue some austerity measures…" Not revealing the nature of the austerity measures he was planning to take, the Minister said, "Some sort of austerity measures (have to be taken) to convey the signal that we are responding to the situation as needed…but I do not want to press the panic button."

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