Former Prime Minister and economist Manmohan Singh hit out at BJP-led central government over India’s economic slowdown, saying it was unable to find solutions and was obsessed with blaming the Opposition.
Singh also partially responded to comments made by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who has blamed Singh and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan for the bad loans India’s public sector banks are struggling with.
“I have just seen the statements by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. I won’t like to comment on that statement, but before one can fix the economy, one needs a correct diagnosis of its ailments and their causes. The government is obsessed with trying to fix blame on its opponent, thus it is unable to find a solution that will ensure the revival of the economy,” Singh said at a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday.
Singh said the Congress did not need a certificate on patriotism from BJP-RSS.
The economist also said the economic slowdown and the government’s apathy were affecting the aspirations and future of Indians.
“Business sentiments are down across Maharashtra, many units face closure. Maharashtra has the highest factory shutdowns in the last five years,” he said.
The BJP government’s obsession with low inflation was inflicting misery on farmers, he added.
“The BJP government at the Centre and in Maharashtra are unwilling to adopt people-friendly policies,” Singh said.
Maharashtra will be voting for a new government in the state elections on October 21.
Nirmala Sitharaman assures investors
Singh’s comments came hours after Sitharaman assured investors that there was no better place in the world to invest in than India, which she said has a “democracy-loving” and “capitalist respecting” environment.
Sitharaman was speaking at an event hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in association with the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum at the IMF headquarters in the US.
“It (India) is one of the fastest growing (economies) even today. It has the best skilled manpower and a government that is continuously doing what is required in the name of reforms, above all democracy and rule of law,” Sitharaman said on Wednesday, PTI quoted.
The finance minister said that the government was engaging with everyone on a weekly basis and there was no trust deficit with the corporate sector and investors. She said there was a greater understanding that this government was willing to hear and also wanting to respond.
The government is committed to maintaining fiscal deficit in India, Sitharaman said.
To a question on the slowdown in the Indian economy, the finance minister said the government is taking steps to address problems in the “stressed” sectors, PTI reported.
In order to boost consumption, the government very clearly said public expenditure for infrastructure will be clearly front loaded, Sitharaman said.
“To increase money in the hands of the people so that consumption can improve, I’ve requested all the building sector banks together with their partners, non-banking, financial companies to reach out to villages, reach out to districts and extend every kind of credit that they would want,” she said, PTI quoted.
The two-prong approach makes sure consumption is boosted, both through spending on public infrastructure and by putting actual money in the hands of the people, and ensures the stress, which is specific to some sectors, is addressed, Sitharaman said.
This has to be a continuous system till the time the economy really shows substantial uptick, the finance minister said.
(With PTI inputs)