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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Tripura claims ‘significant’ economic growth despite pandemic, Opposition rubbishes it as ‘jugglery of statistics’

The ruling BJP hailed the development as “phenomenal”, saying primary sector growth, especially agriculture and agri-allied sectors, largely contributed to economic progress despite the ongoing pandemic.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: June 11, 2021 8:20:49 pm
Tripura claims ‘significant’ economic growth despite pandemic, Opposition rubbishes it as 'jugglery of statistics'After the Covid-19 induced lockdown during the first wave of pandemic last year, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had said the economy had taken a hit nationally and appealed to develop growth in the primary sector. (Representative Image)

Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Tripura has registered economic growth with a per capita income higher than the national average, the state claimed Tuesday. Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath said the state has also registered significant growth in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in the financial year that ended this March.

The ruling BJP hailed the development as “phenomenal”, saying primary sector growth, especially agriculture and agri-allied sectors, largely contributed to economic progress despite the ongoing pandemic.

After the Covid-19 induced lockdown during the first wave of pandemic last year, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had said the economy had taken a hit nationally and appealed to develop growth in the primary sector.

A year later, as states across the country are still struggling with the second wave of pandemic, his government claims that this strategy has worked.

Speaking to the press, Nath said GSDP of Tripura was Rs. 59,752.61 crore in 2020-21 financial year, with a steady growth over the last several financial years. He also highlighted the rise in per capita income. “Per capita income in Tripura is Rs 1,31,128 in 2020-21 against Rs 1,25,191 in 2019-20, Rs 1,12,849 in the previous financial year and Rs. 1,00,444 in the year before that,” he said.

However, opposition Congress’s state vice-president Tapas Dey said the government’s claim of economic progress is “unrealistic” and can’t be treated as factual since it is based on “estimation”, not a report. “It is a jugglery of statistics. The state government has created an elite class under their patronage; people by and large are facing hard days. This claim of economic growth is far from the ground reality. The biggest problem in Tripura today is unemployment, farmer crises and lack of money flow in the market,” Dey said.

While the government did not clarify its data source, it is similar to what was underlined in the Economic Review of Tripura, 2019-20 – the latest version of one of the most comprehensive economic reports published by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics.

This report, while putting per capita income of Tripura higher than the national average and estimating reduced but positive growth even in the pandemic year, said average annual growth rate in real terms or constant prices of Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) for 2018-19 (1st Revision) was 11.3 per cent. The growth rate declined in 2019-20 to 9.6 per cent and is expected to reduce to 5.9 per cent due to lockdown and slow down of the economy.

Professor Indraneel Bhowmik of Tripura University said the growth rate has slowed down in Tripura due to the pandemic, but had not contracted like in other states because of an expansion in the primary sector like agriculture and fishing which grew over 10 per cent. While stating that economic expansion is “naturally happening”, Bhowmik said the data cited in the Economic Review of Tripura is not the final report of 2020-21 and is only a “quick estimate.”

“Effects of the pandemic would be reflected in the 2021-22 report,” he said, adding: “In the national economy, the contraction was mainly due to the secondary and tertiary sector. The impact visible in major parts of the country was not visible in Tripura due to less weight of the secondary sector here. The pandemic also had a lesser effect on GSDP. For the national economy, per capita income has decreased but it grew in Tripura, although the growth was reduced.”

Dr Salim Shah, another economist from Tripura University, said both GSDP and per capita income have shown an increasing trend for the last several years. However, he said this growth doesn’t necessarily reflect good economic health. “The clinical symptoms of the economy, particularly during the lockdown, have shown Tripura is suffering from an unbearable unemployment rate of 21 per cent. Rubber market is in a bad shape and large scale exports are suffering,” he said.

“The pandemic has affected the nation and Tripura is no exception. But there has been phenomenal progress in health infrastructure and management of several other sectors which would prove highly beneficial,” BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said, adding that experts are saying economic progress would be more visible from June this year.

“There has been considerable work in the medium and small enterprises, agriculture and agri-allied industry etc. These sectors are flourishing. Their positive influence is visible in the state’s economy as development in these sectors are happening despite the pandemic,” Bhattacharya said.

Veteran CPI(M) leader and state Left Front convener Bijan Dhar rubbished the state government’s claim of economic progress and termed it “jumla”. “There is no stellar performance of state government during this time, nor is there any huge flow of funds that would propel GSDP growth or per capita income at a rate higher than the national average. It is a provisional report and needs to be scrutinised by the Government of India,” Dhar said.

The veteran communist leader also reasoned that Tripura is facing a dearth of jobs, MGNREGA wages are withheld here for months, almost no work is being done in railway and infrastructure development projects and a large share of development would have to be attributed to central and state-sponsored welfare projects. However, he questioned the choice of beneficiaries in these projects and said the aspect would have to be scrutinised.

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