India can sustain rapid growth for 20 years: finance minister

NEW DELHI, Dec 2, 2007 (AFP) – India’s economy can keep up its scorching growth for the next two decades as long as investment stays strong, the finance minister said on Sunday.

India’s economy has grown by an average annual 8.6 percent for the last four years and the minister has said he is targeting “close to nine percent” expansion this year.

“The biggest challenge (for maintaining high growth) is to keep investment growing,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told an international economic summit in the Indian capital.

“We can keep this (high) growth continuing for the next 10, 15, 20 years” as long as investment remains robust, he said.

“I have a simple philosophy — to keep the economy growing, we have to keep investment growing,” he said, calling it a “virtuous circle.”

“Indians are good savers. As long as I keep investment going, there will be more jobs” and that will translate into more savings and investment, he said.

The country’s investment to gross domestic product ratio, a key measure of growth potential, was running at a healthy 35 percent, he said.

Chidambaram said he was targeting a rise in the ratio to 40 percent in the next fiv