Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday hit out at his predecessor P Chidambaram for being a “know-all” living under false “illusion” and said the economy was in the hands of a “terrible doctor” under the 10-year rule of UPA which pushed it to being in the fragile five economies in the world.
Jaitley said that his government’s journey has been from policy paralysis to structural reforms and a journey from fragile five to being a bright spot in the economy in the world. “That’s the journey of transformation,” he said. “And therefore we can throw up questions in the air and live under the illusions of all sorts of know-alls. But the fact is, our analysis can be incorrect (but) data cannot speak any alternate language.”
Jaitley’s reaction in Rajya Sabha came days after Chidambaram said that the Modi government was in denial over the economic situation and dubbed it a “terrible patient” which makes its own diagnosis. Chidambaram had termed Arvind Subramanian a ‘good doctor’ whose advice on the economy was not being heeded by the government.
Talking about the state of the economy during Modi’s tenure, Jaitley said Indian economy under the BJP rule since 2014 has covered the journey from policy paralysis to structural reforms which have taken out the economy from being in fragile five to being a bright spot.
“I do believe that some people can make a very good comment at us because they write and speak with right logic but I am not so sure whether they make the best administrators,” he said.
The finance minister reeled out statistics on GDP growth, inflation, fiscal deficit and current account deficit (CAD) to draw a contrast between the previous UPA rule and the present regime.
He picked on Chidambaram for questioning the rationale of plan to lower corporate tax to 25 per cent from current 30 per cent, saying the Direct Tax Code drafted and finalised by the former finance minister had first proposed lowering of the tax paid by Indian companies to leave them with a surplus to invest.
“In some cases, where you stand depends on where you sit,” he said alluding that Chidambaram had changed stand after moving from the treasury to opposition benches.
Jaitley reminded Congress of inconsistency in its stand on a range of issues including Aadhaar and GST. While there was a division within the ruling UPA over the issue of national biometric ID Aadhaar, stand on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and corporate tax change was also changed, he said. “What is the consistency of your stand on economic policy,” he asked.
Answering posers put by Chidambaram during his speech on the Budget yesterday, Jaitley said when pre-Budget Economic Survey spoke of work remaining to be done on agriculture, employment and education sectors it did not mean the problem was created in last four years but implied unfinished task of 55 years of Congress rule. “The work is still pending a lot and this is the real reality. We are not living in the air castle,” he said.
Jaitley said GDP growth in under UPA rule in 2012-13 was 5.3 per cent – the lowest in recent years and it was 6.3 per cent in the following year. “We lost one quarter GDP because of GST, because people were destocking (and) manufacturing came down and it became 5.7 per cent. So for one quarter it was 5.7 per cent. So there was so much of hoopla for one quarter” as compared to 5.3 to 6.3 per cent for full years under UPA, he said.
(With PTI inputs)