A day before the government presents its Economic Survey, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P Chidambaram released the Congress’ “Real State of the Economy” report for the last two years. The 78-page report pointed to a 90 per cent drop in job creation from the 11 lakh new jobs in 2010 to less than 1.5 lakh new jobs added in 2016, a sharp deceleration in private investments, credit growth slowing to its “lowest in decades” and a drop in road construction to about 6 kilometres a day as against the targeted 30 km.
“A day before the Economic Survey, we thought we should bring out a document that sets out what we consider as a dose of realism, so that the country as a whole has ways and means of finding or assessing where the economy is…,” Singh said at the AICC briefing. The report called the government to focus on fiscal consolidation, but subject to the requirement of well-planned social sector spending, which necessary. “That the Indian economy is not in a good shape is obvious. Even the International Monetary Fund has projected that growth rate of India in this current fiscal year will not be 7.6 per cent but less than 6.6 per cent. Several other rating agencies have also made similar projections,” he noted.
Chidambaram said the state of the economy had to be assessed in terms of job creation, credit growth and other vital parameters. He said just 77,000 jobs had been created between July and September, 2016, of which 50,000 had been created in the government. Credit growth of about 5 per cent, was the lowest in decades, he said.
“UPA delivered an average of 8.5 per cent growth in first five years and despite the 2008’s major international financial crisis, UPA’s average growth rate was 7.5 percent annually for ten years. We lifted 140 million people out of poverty net,” Chidambaram said.
Hitting out at the government, Chidambaram said, “They are hiding behind a dazzle of numbers called the GDP, which has been questioned on the basis of wrong choice of indicators. People of India are not dazzled by the number. The first and most important question is where are the jobs? The second question: where is the new capital investment and the third questions is how are business going to grow and expand?”
“So there are no jobs, capital flow is on decline, credit flow is at the lowest. Yet if the government presents a very rosy picture of the economy tomorrow, people of India are entitled to question that.”
The booklet prepared by Congress research cell headed by party MP Rajeev Gowda, has raised the red flag on the government’s performance on various counts. “NDA government tends to believe exaggerated version of economy, this research document is closer to truth than what government will say tomorrow,” and alleged “there are serious question marks on this government’s ability to follow fiscal prudence,” Chidambaram said.
To a question about populism aspect of the UPA I’s 2008 farm loan waiver, the former minister said it was a “very wise decision” based on the demand from farming community. He also asked the government not to make the “cardinal mistake” of going for cuts in social sector spending.