Just hours before the latest figures on GDP growth were announced, the issue of economic slowdown came up in the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour. The Opposition has been targeting the government over the slowdown, but on Friday, the questions came from MPs who are members of the BJP or its allies.
The first question came from Lt Gen D P Vats (retd), a BJP member. He asked Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal about job loss due to automation.
Goyal said that “employment does get affected temporarily because of modernisation and technology upgradation” but “India cannot afford to be left behind”.
Lt Gen Vats asked a supplementary question about welfare measures as “many workers are being laid off”. To this the minister said, “I think, there is no empirical evidence or very detailed evidence of workers losing jobs in a very big measure.”
SAD member Naresh Gujral asked Goyal about RoDTEP, a scheme to refund taxes to exporters. Goyal said the scheme is being discussed between finance and commerce ministries.
Narendra Jadhav, who was nominated under the NDA regime, said the US-China trade war had led to industry fleeing China, and “…why has India not been able to take full advantage of this opportunity to attract manufacturing facilities?”
Goyal said the government has slashed corporate tax and spoke about other measures to boost entrepreneurship.
Responding to an Opposition member — TMC’s Subhasish Chakraborty — Goyal said that “in many instances, India has lost the competitive edge that we always had in the manufacturing sector”.
He said the government was taking steps to address the issues.