The Congress on Monday tore into the Central government’s claims on its handling of the economy, hours after President Ram Nath Kovind addressed Parliament and the Economic Survey was tabled in the House. Calling Economic Survey 2017-18 “a refreshingly candid document that has brought to surface the internal contradictions within the government”, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the NDA government, after nearly four years in office, has “admitted that it has failed to address the challenges in education, employment and agriculture and hopes to do so in the last year of its five-year term.”
Describing the President’s address as “deeply disappointing” and “insipid”, Congress leader Anand Sharma said it was time for the government to give an account after nearly four years in office. “But, surely, the President of India in his address could not have given an account of the non-performance and betrayal of the promises,” he said.
Sharma said the economy is not booming, as is being claimed. “This government is in denial and therefore will not be in a position to improve the situation…. It is a joke for the government to claim that everything is fine, everybody is happy and there is complete welfare and prosperity in the country,” he told reporters.
Quoting the Survey, which said the level of real agricultural growth and real agricultural revenues has remained constant, Chidambaram said it is “clear that agriculture has been left in the lurch”.
He said, “Although the Survey claims that the growth rate for 2017-18 will be 6.75 per cent (implying a second-half growth rate of 7.5 per cent), it offers little evidence in support… The growth rate in the first half was 6 per cent, and the year is likely to end with a growth rate of between 6 and 6.5 per cent.” Chidambaram pointed out that Survey has admitted that the major programmes undertaken by the government — be it toilets, Jan Dhan accounts, LPG connections and village electrification — have not resulted in tangible outcomes.
“After listing the unfinished work, 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 said the Survey has “thrown the burden on private investments and exports”. He said the government had not created jobs as promised. In fact, he said, jobs have been destroyed by wrong decisions, including demonetisation — an estimated 3.70 crore jobs have been lost in the informal sector alone, he claimed.