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Chidambaram lashes out at Centre, questions GDP, unemployment rate


New Delhi, In a fervent attack on the Narendra Modi government, former Union Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday said that country’s economic atmosphere has worsened and the government has failed to address the problems faced by farmers and contain petrol price hike. Addressing mediapersons here, Mr Chidambaram said that the decision to increase the interest rate will affect customers, adding that the “adverse effects of demonetization have been established beyond doubt” and “ a flawed GST continues to haunt trade and business”. “Inflation is on the rise. Inflation expectations are high. No more proof is necessary than the hike in the repo rate a few days ago. Interest rates will rise, throwing more burden on consumers and producers”, said Mr Chidambaram. Referring to the recent farmers’ agitations in various places he said farmers’ despondency has turned into anger and farmers have come to the streets to protest. “The Principal reasons are uneconomic prices for farm produce and stagnant wages of farm labour”, the former Finance Minister said. Mr Chidambaram said there is a widespread anger about the ‘artificially fixed prices of petrol, diesel and LPG’. “There is absolutely no reason why the prices should be higher today than what they were in May – June 2014. It is nothing but a case of fleecing the helpless consumer”. He also questioned allegations against state governments holding them responsible for price hike for petroleum products . “If you bring petrol and diesel under GST, prices will come down. BJP is in Centre and they have governments in most of the states. Why are they blaming states? They have a majority and they should do it”, he added. Referring to the Union government’s promise to create two crore jobs every year, Mr Chidambaram said that “joblessness is rampant. The only reliable date is the quarterly survey of the Labour Bureau. Those numbers reveal that a few thousand jobs are created or added every quarter. That is a far cry from the two crore jobs a year that was promised as part of ache din”. He also asked why the government has not yet released the Labour Bureau Survey for Oct-December 2017.Taking a jibe at statements on ‘pakora’, he said, “there is great ferment in campuses across the country because young men and women know that there will be no jobs when they graduate. So far, nobody has bought the innovative idea that ‘frying pakoras' is also a job”. Pointing out the issues related to economy Mr Chidambaram said that the “tyres on three of the four wheels on which the economy - exports, private investment and private consumption - rides are punctured.' Mr Chidambaram , a critique on both demonetisation and the GST, said the decision on November 8, 2016, to demonetise currencies had an adverse effect. “The growth rate has declined from 8.2 percent in 2015-16 to 6.7 percent in 2017-18- exactly 1.5 percent as I had predicted and endorsed by Dr Manmohan Singh”, he added. He said that the Tamil Nadu government has officially acknowledged that 50,000 small scale industry units were shut down in the state in 2017-18. “ 5,00,000 jobs were lost and capital investment in the SME sector declined by Rs 11,000 crore. Exports from Tiruppur declined from Rs 50,000 crore to 36,000 core in 2017-18”, Mr Chidambaram said. He said the refunds for thousands of crores of rupees have ben held up putting business, especially exporters, in jeopardy due to the ‘flawed GST’ implementation. Mr Chidambaram also criticised that social security laws and programmes have been neglected. “The Food Security Act has not been implemented. MGNREGA is no longer demand – driven, wage arrears have mounted. Crop insurance covers barely 30 percent of farmers. It is a windfall for insurers. Health Protection scheme is another jumla”, he said. Responding to a question on PNB scam accused Nirav Modi, Mr Chidambaram said that he was not sure whether efforts were being made to bring back Mr Modi. "I know of no efforts being made to bring Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi back to India. Congress stance has always been the same; The Centre allowed the two gentlemen to leave the country. Therefore, I doubt any efforts are being made to bring them back to the country," he said at a press conference here.

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