Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today claimed that the country was staring at a "protracted slowdown" that would break its back unless the ruling BJP takes proactive measures to stimulate the economy.
Addressing a meet organised by the Congress, he said that the government was yet to wake up to a fact that was being acknowledged by everybody from industrialists to journalists. "The dangerous thing about the present situation is that our economists are complacent enough to not realise that we are in the midst of a protracted slowdown. In the first quarter of 2019-20, the national income growth rate declined to 5%. This is the fifth quarter of successive downgrading," he said.
He was echoing a similar sentiment voiced by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi earlier today. "What India needs isn't propaganda, manipulated news cycles and foolish theories about millennials, but a concrete plan to #FixTheEconomy that we can all get behind. Acknowledging that we have a problem is a good place to start," Mr Gandhi had tweeted, referring to an observation by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that "millennials" had stopped buying cars on monthly instalment because of easy access to app-based cabs.
What India needs isn't propaganda, manipulated news cycles & foolish theories about millennials, but a concrete plan to #FixTheEconomy that we can all get behind.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 12, 2019
Acknowledging that we have a problem is a good place to start.https://t.co/mAycubTxy1
The former Prime Minister told participants at the party meet that while the rupee was weakening by the day, exports have been "sluggish" under the NDA government. He said that though the UPA government had also encountered a similar situation in 2008 due to international factors, it "faced the situation head-on and converted that crisis into an opportunity to revitalise the economy".
"There is a downturn in the economy today, whether you look at agriculture, real estate or manufacturing. If the income growth slows down month after month, quarter after quarter, the scope for creating more jobs for young people is going to be seriously affected," he added.
Dr Singh said that agriculture was of utmost importance to the country, given that 60% of the population depends on it for their livelihood. "However, agricultural growth has fallen from 4.35% in the previous year to 2.7% now. Another dangerous point is that the real wage rate in the agricultural and rural sectors has reduced in the last five years of the NDA government," he added.
He claimed that industry was not faring very well under the BJP-led government either. "The manufacturing sector has been hit by lack of investment and incentives, the end result being an all-round fear of gloom and doom," the former Prime Minister said. Dr Singh also cited statistics to claim that 4.5 lakh dwelling units in eight metropolitan cities were lying vacant due to lack of demand.
He concluded the address with a pot shot at the ruling BJP. "The Prime Minister himself talks about achieving a 5-trillion dollar economy by 2024. Now this looks like a dream," Dr Singh said.
(With inputs from IANS)
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