WITHIN HOURS of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing a slew of measures on Friday to revive sagging investment in the economy, the Congress mounted an offensive against the Centre, blaming its flawed economic policies for the current slowdown.
“The Union government is only applying balm to the economy when what is needed is a surgery. Short-term stimuli cannot help beyond a certain level. It only acts as feel-good factor. More importantly, such short term measures require fiscal room, which unfortunately isn’t there,” AICC spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh told mediapersons in Mumbai.
In the upcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand — the first states to go to polls after the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year — the Congress plans to run a campaign around the BJP’s “economic mismanagement” and rising “job losses”.
With growing agrarian distress in Maharashtra also being promoted as a poll plank, state Congress leader Sachin Sawant, in a separate media interaction, attacked the Devendra Fadnavis government’s farm loan waiver scheme.
Spelling out official statistics of the waiver amount distributed to beneficiaries till the end of August, Sawant alleged that “50 per cent of the farmers were yet to receive the benefit”.
Vallabh, too, attacked the state government over “farmer suicides”, contending that “farmers were not getting fair remunerative prices and that rural incomes had declined”. Alleging that the government’s economic planning had gone for a complete toss, Vallabh accused the Centre of affecting investor sentiments.
Targeting the Centre for declining economic growth rates and job losses in the construction and automobile sectors as well as in the informal economy, the AICC spokesperson alleged, “The domestic demand is depressed and consumption is at an 18-month low. Nominal GDP growth is at a 15-year low. Investor sentiments are in doldrums. The focus should be on job-creating sectors.”
The Narendra Modi government should acknowledge that the problem was becoming deeper, and act by going beyond “headline management” and “tepid press conferences”, he said. “While the economy needs a major surgery, the government is assuming it to be a cold caught from global headwinds that can be cured by a balm.”
Vallabh also accused the Centre and the state of hiding unemployment data.
The Congress has said that the government’s focus should be the revival of sectors that can contribute more to the job market, such as real estate, construction, garments and textiles. “Budget announcements and rollbacks have shaken the confidence of international investors. Exports are not growing. The government has been unable to take advantage of opportunities that have arisen in global trade due to geopolitical realignments. Non-performing assets in the banking sector are consistently on the rise,” said Vallabh.