Eastern states, rural areas, new cities to drive India's growth: Jaitley



 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said eastern states, rural areas and new cities will fuel the next stage of India's growth, which is likely to be a $5 trillion economy around the second half of next decade.

"Geographically, it's the eastern parts of India which are agriculture rich, mineral rich but where growth rates have never been so high which need to be exploited to the fullest so that we can look at these areas as future engines of growth," he said at a conclave here.

Addressing the India Economic Conclave 2018 via satellite link, Jaitley said there were at least four areas -- infrastructure, rural India and gender apart from eastern states -- where a lot of investment was required and where growth will naturally occur.

"The first is infrastructure. Coupled with it you will need more cities and townships. Second is rural India, future growth has to come in from there. Third is going to be gender as far as participation of women in the economic life is concerned," he said.

Jaitley said the country should continue with the reform agenda even though there are times when reforms slow down due to political situations. But the country should never fall to the temptations of reversing the agenda.

"We are around 7.4 per cent growing economy over last several years and if we can improve upon that rate to 8 per cent and maybe exceed that figure, our target of reaching a $5 trillion economy over the next few years will become a realisable dream," he said.

The Minister said there were several unreformed sectors in the economy and the country must keep those basic parameters in mind and look at those unreformed sectors where it needs to move forward without falling to the temptation of sheer populism.

"I believe for the next two decades our agenda should be clearly laid out. We continue to improve upon our infrastructure and quality of life in urban areas. We need to have more cities and townships because they will really become the engines of growth." 

At the same, spending on healthcare and education both at the level of Centre and state governments would have to be increased, he added.-IANS