RTTNews - As the economic environment has improved over the past three months, the Indian economy could perform better this year on the back of 6.7% GDP growth last fiscal year, Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Monday while addressing his first press conference after being reinstated as the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.

What I can say is we should at least be aiming at the same growth as achieved last year and we could do a little better, he said. Both budgetary and extra-budgetary resources made available for spending on infrastructure development would itself help in catalyzing growth across a large section of industry, Ahluwalia stressed. However, a lot depends on how the global economy behaves in the second half of this year, he cautioned.

When asked on whether there could be additional fiscal stimulus measures in the forthcoming budget, Ahluwalia replied that discussions are going on with the finance ministry related to what should be the appropriate size for planned expenditure in the current fiscal year. This is something where the finance ministry will take a view, he added.

He said the UPA government is focused on rural areas and may look at merging overlapping social sector projects for better management. In the previous commission, we had looked at that and made suggestions. This is something that we would do again, he said.

Ahluwalia sees lot of scope for raising much-needed resources for welfare programs. As the government holds 51 percent of the equity, there can really be no objection whatsoever to disinvestments in state-run companies, he said

Commenting on government subsidies, Ahluwalia said there was a need to limit subsidy costs. It has been the general position of the government that subsidies should be limited and well targeted, he said. He also spoke about the need for reforms in the power sector so that energy availability and prices could be linked with the global levels.

On Friday, the government reconstituted the Planning Commission and inducted three new members, including former member of the prime minister's economic panel, Saumitra Chaudhuri. The other new members are Narendra Jadhav, honorary vice-chancellor of the Pune University, and Mihir Shah, secretary of Samaj Pragati Sahayog, a non-profit organization. Apart from Ahluwalia, the government retained Abhijit Sen, Syeda Hameed and B. K. Chaturvedi as members, but dropped Kirit Parikh, V. L. Chopra, B. Mungekar and B. N. Yugandhar from the new list. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the chairman of the commission.

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