New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday inflation remained unexpectedly high and his government did not succeed in creating adequate jobs in the manufacturing sector during his decade-long tenure.
“I am concerned that we have not been as successful as we need to be in generating employment in the manufacturing sector. This is an aspect of performance which we are working hard to correct,” the prime minister said while addressing a media conference here.
“We need a much stronger effort in support of small and medium enterprises which can be a major source of good quality employment. Our manufacturing strategy gives high priority to this objective for the future,” he said.
Manmohan Singh said the second biggest concern on the economic front was inflation.
“We have also not been as successful in controlling persistent inflation as we would have wished,” he said.
“This is primarily because food inflation has increased. However, we should remember that our inclusive policies have put more money in the hands of the weaker sections.
“To keep food prices in control, we need to increase supplies and also improve marketing arrangements and logistics. This is especially important for items which are perishable such as fruits and vegetables,” he added.
Inflation has remained stubbornly high in the last four years. The wholesale price index (WPI) based inflation soared to a 14-month high of 7.52 percent in November, according to the latest official data available.
Retail inflation based on the consumer price index (CPI) accelerated to 11.24 percent in November.
The prime minister said although his government was not successful in controlling inflation, it has taken adequate measures to shield the common man from the ill-effects of rising food prices.
“The worry about inflation is legitimate but we should also recognise that incomes for most people have increased faster than inflation,” he said.
Manmohan Singh claimed that real wages in rural areas have increased faster than before and per-capita consumption in both rural and urban areas has risen significantly.
“Rural wages have increased in real terms much faster than earlier. Rural real consumption per capita has increased four times faster,” he said.
This has helped lift 13.8 crore people out of poverty in the past one decade.
Referring to allegations of corruption, the prime minister said his government has taken procedural measures to minimise the chances of graft.
“There is much public concern on high-profile allegations of corruption, notably in regard to 2G spectrum allocations, coal block allocations and cases related to land,” he said.
Manmohan Singh pointed out that his government has taken taken major steps to change the existing procedures for allocation of spectrum and coal by shifting to auctions so that these problems do not arise in future.
“Where some decisions taken earlier, when allocations were made administratively, have come under question, they are being investigated. Any wrongdoing will be punished through due process of law,” he said.
“Land issues are in the domain of state governments and we have consistently advised state governments to ensure transparency in these cases,” the prime minister added.