Former Union finance minister and veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram, 75, on Tuesday gave a wake up call to the government to admit its errors of commission and omission, reverse its policies and heed to the advice of economists and the Opposition to prevent 2021-22 also not going the 2020-21 way.
He was addressing the media through a video conference on the latest National Statistical Office (NSO) report released on Monday on the estimates of the annual national income for the last fiscal of 2020-21. “As expected, the GDP at constant prices recorded a negative growth of (-) 7.3%, the first time the negative annual growth since 1979-80,” he said.
Chidambaram ridiculed a long interview given by FM Nirmala Sitharaman to newspapers on the day the NSO report was out for still defending her misguided and disastrous policies.
For him, what is most worrying is the fall in the per capita GDP below Rs1 lakh to Rs99,694, which is lower than the level achieved in 2018-19 and maybe even in 2017-18. “The deeply worrying conclusion is that most Indians are poorer than they were 2 years ago,” he said, citing an Aziz Premji University survey claiming 23 crore people pushed below the poverty line and into indebtedness.
Rahul says govt too arrogant
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi chipped in with a tweet: “PM’s hall of shame — Minimum GDP, maximum unemployment.”
Hr said: “The economic disaster has come. Our people are going through unimaginable pain. All because the Modi govt is too arrogant to see its own shortcomings.”
Chidambaram said the NSO reveals the most economic indicators are worse than what they were two years ago, be they private consumption, gross fixed capital formation, exports or imports. Suggestions on fiscal expansion and cash transfers were turned down while "hollow packages like Atmanirbhar have fallen flat."
He showed gratitude to two leading chambers of business and industry, CII and FICCI, echoing the Congress views and pleading for fiscal expansion, including cash transfer to the poor. He said the CMIE report on loss of jobs and growing unemployment is alarming and so is the RBI’s monthly report flagging the “demand shock” and its consequences.
Chidu wants Centre to print money
Chidambaram said the govt must print money, if necessary, in reply a question on his reference to Nobel Laureate, Dr Abhijit Banerjee, calling for printing money and increasing spending, in his suo motu statement. “We have the space and sovereign right to print money and if at any point, the government feels that too much is being printed, it can always stop printing money, but, at the moment, I think, printing money is clearly advised,” he said, noting many other economists have recommended the govt must print money to support its expenditure. On the questions on loss of jobs and reduction of income in various sectors, PC said: “All these are clear indicators the economy is in dire straits. The CMIE is the only reliable periodic report we get on employment and unemployment. They have highlighted and Mahesh Vyas has come on several shows to say, 2 things are absolutely true, 1. The labour force participation rate is declining and 2. Unemployment is growing.”
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