Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday weighed in on the Economic Survey, stating that it has brought to “surface the internal contractions within the government”. Chidambaram castigated the Narendra Modi-led NDA government on a wide range of issues by highlighting the six main takeaways from the Survey.
Describing the survey’s conclusion on the state of agriculture as “depressing”, Chidambaram said, “after four years, the level of real agricultural growth and real agricultural revenues has remained constant. It is clear that Agriculture has been left in the lurch.”
Authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, the Survey for 2017-18 was presented in the Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier in the day.
As per the Economic survey, India economy is “picking up quite nicely” and is on course to expand by 7-7.5 per cent in 2018-19 to again become the world’s fastest-growing major economy. It, however, said the economy could face challenges from rising oil prices and a sharp correction in the elevated stock prices.
Chidambaram said the NDA government has admitted that it has failed to address the challenges in education, employment and agriculture.
On the economy, the Congress leader said the Survey claims that the growth rate for 2017-18 will be 6.75 percent (implying a second-half growth rate of 7.5 percent), but added that it offers little evidence in support of this claim.
“The future course of the economy is conditional on many ifs. After listing the unfinished work (and there are many), the Survey seems to prepare the grounds for failure by praying that (1) the world economy maintains its growth momentum and (2) oil prices do not persist at current levels. The outlook is therefore uncertain, if not bleak,” he said.
Chidambaram argued the survey has admitted that the major programmes undertaken by the government (toilets, Jan Dhan accounts, LPG connections, and village electrification) have not resulted in tangible outcomes. “It is an indictment of the policies and their execution,” he said.
He also said the Survey’s admission is contrary to the government’s claim of “sound macroeconomic fundamentals”. “The Survey admits to the two underlying macroeconomic vulnerabilities — fiscal deficit and current account deficit and hints at slower consolidation. This admission belies the government’s claim of sound macroeconomic fundamentals”.
“Finally, the Survey has thrown the burden on private investments and exports. It is obvious that the government has thrown in the towel and hopes that the private sector will come to the rescue of the economy! There is not much gas left in the government. Altogether, it is a depressing report of the fiscal year that will come to an end in two months,” he concluded.
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