India needs to sustain growth amid global slowdown: Jaitley

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) A day after presenting the union budget for 2016-17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said efforts are necessary to sustain growth in a challenging global economic environment.

“The prevailing economic scenario across the world is challenging to say the least. This year’s budget was proposed and presented at a time of unusual volatility in the international economic environment… markets are fearful, the global recovery may be faltering,” he said at the Civil Accounts Day 2016 celebrations here.

“Against this background, India stands out as a haven of stability and opportunity,” he said.

“The task is now to sustain them in the more difficult environment. This will require sound economic management. Fiscal policy will continue to be vital in the uncertain global environment while sustaining growth,” he added.

He also told the gathering that increased social sector spending to promote equitable growth and rising demand for better services from the government has raised the need for a new and improved accountability paradigm.

It was imperative, therefore, to strengthen expenditure management and further improve the quality of expenditure for achieving higher social outcomes, he added.

“The department of expenditure will be examining the key recommendations and steps that are required to be taken,” he noted.

Presenting the budget in parliament on Monday, Jaitley said he had decided that prudence lies in adhering to fiscal targets, but while doing so, has also ensured that the development agenda is not compromised.

The government has targeted reducing the fiscal deficit to 3.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the current financial year, compared with four percent last year, and reduce it further to 3.5 percent in 2016-17.

The fiscal deficit for 2014-15 touched 4.1 percent of GDP.

The Economic Survey presented in parliament last week said “the coming year is expected to be a challenging one from the fiscal point of view because of challenges posed by a lower-than-projected nominal GDP growth” and “chances of India’s growth rate in 2016-17 increasing significantly beyond 2015-16 levels are not very high, due to likelihood of persistence of global slowdown”.

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