Slamming the Narendra Modi-led central government’s ‘twin blow’ to the economy delivered through demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), former prime minister Manmohan Singh said both the initiatives are a complete disaster for our economy and broke the back of small businesses. Referring to demonetisation in his address to a gathering of businessmen in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, Singh was quoted by ANI as saying: “Tomorrow we mark one year since the disastrous policy was thrust on the people of our country.” He added that the government has not made a fresh assessment of costs and benefits, if any, of the move.
The former prime minister termed November 8 as a ‘black day’ for the Indian economy and democracy. “I repeat what I said in the parliament, this was organised loot and legalised plunder,” he said.
He also said it was due to demonetisation that Indians had to go for Chinese imports. Comparing the escalating rise in India’s imports from China, Singh said the country’s import in first half of 2016-17 stood at Rs 1.96 lakh crore, whereas in 2017-18 it increased to Rs 2.41 lakh crore. The Congress leader also cited both demonetisation and GST as the main cause behind the unprecedented growth of imports, which rose by 23 per cent in a year.
Singh also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-profile bullet train project. “Bullet train, launched with much fanfare, is an exercise in vanity. Did PM consider the alternative of the high-speed train by upgrading broad gauge railway?” he questioned.
The former PM wondered if raising questions about bullet trains made one anti-development, or questioning GST or demonetisation made one a tax evader. “This attitude of suspecting everyone to be a thief or anti-national, low-level rhetoric is damaging to democratic discourse. While denigrating the past the Prime Minister is also exaggerating what he will do in future,” said Singh.