Source AP ©

India's PM: liberalization of economic to be continued

Indian Premier Manmohan Singh said Monday that the country would sustain a high economic growth rate in the long term and promised to stay the course of economic liberalization.

India has gradually opened its markets to foreign competition and capital since the country switched from a socialist-style economy in the early 1990s, when Singh was the country's finance minister.

That economic liberalization program has helped Indian companies become more competitive and benefited the broader economy in accelerating its expansion, Singh said as he opened a meeting of global business leaders hosted in New Delhi by U.S.-based Fortune magazine.

India's economy has averaged nearly 9 percent growth annually over the past four years, and in the process, it has turned into a top investment destination for global companies.

"It is undeniable that India is on a new growth trajectory," Singh said. "A trajectory where sustained economic growth of 9 to 10 percent per annum - growth rates which were considered impossible even five years ago - seems possible for many years to come."

The prime minister spoke as a monthlong march by thousands of impoverished Indians culminated in a mass rally in the Indian capital Monday. Those protesters said hundreds of millions of Indians like them had been left out by the economic boom of recent years.

Singh said despite "a sense of satisfaction" with the growth numbers, there were growing concerns about equity.

"I must say that we can do even better," he said. "I believe that India must do better if it has to meet its developmental aspirations and equity goals."

Singh, however, insisted the country had followed the right policy course in integrating more and more with the global economy. "We should persist on this path," he said.

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