Singh asked the government to put aside “vendetta politics” and reach out to “sane voices and thinking minds” to steer the economy out of this “man-made crisis”.
“The last quarter’s GDP growth rate of 5 per cent signals that we are in the midst of a prolonged slowdown. India has the potential to grow at a much faster rate, but all-round mismanagement by the Modi government has resulted in this slowdown,” he said.
Public comments from the former Prime Minister are rare. Back in 2016, Singh had famously described the withdrawal of high denomination notes as “monumental mismanagement”, “organised loot”, and “legalised plunder” of the common people. He had warned that national income could decline “by about 2 percentage points” as a result of the demonetisation exercise.
“It is particularly distressing that the manufacturing sector’s growth is tottering at 0.6%,” he said. “This makes it very clear that our economy has not yet recovered from the man-made blunders of demonetisation and a hastily implemented GST.”
Domestic demand, Singh said, “is depressed and consumption growth is at an 18-month low. Nominal GDP growth is at a 15 year low. There is a gaping hole in tax revenues. Tax buoyancy remains elusive as businessmen, small and big, are hounded and tax terrorism continues unabated. Investor sentiments are in doldrums.
Why Singh’s voice matters
By fielding the former finance minister who is credited with scripting India’s economic liberalisation programme, the Congress hopes to amplify its argument that the economy is sliding under Modi’s watch.
“These”, Singh said, “are not the foundations for economic recovery”.
Criticising the government for its failure on the employment front, Singh said: “More than 3.5 lakh jobs have been lost in the automobile sector alone (and) there will similarly be large scale job losses in the informal sector, hurting our most vulnerable workers.” The government’s policies, he said, were resulting in massive jobless growth.
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