- PM Modi lashes out at critics of centre's economic policies
- Says handful of people spreading pessimism, have had slow growth before
- First defence since huge debate sparked by BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha
The government, PM Modi said, did not deny that growth had slid in the April-June quarter, but said it was "committed and capable" of reversing the setback and "ready to take decisions."
The Prime Minister said it was not the first time that GDP growth had declined to that level; during the previous Congress-led UPA regime, it was below 5.7 per cent eight times, he said, adding that, "There were quarters when growth was 0.2 per cent, 1.5 per cent." That decline, he said, was more dangerous for the economy, because in those years India was battling "higher inflation, higher current account deficit and higher fiscal deficit".
In the last three years, the Prime Minister said, his government has brought in 87 big and small reforms in 21 sectors, making a comparison of the performance of key sectors with that during Congress rule in his over an hour-long speech.
Fundamentals are strong and the government would ensure that financial stability is maintained, PM Modi said, promising steps that will "take the country into a new league". He also addressed concerns over implementation of the new national sales tax (GST) and promised to identify and remove hurdles faced by businesses, especially small traders.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) acknowledged the weaker growth on Wednesday, cutting its end-March projection for gross value added or GVA - the indicator of economic growth it prefers - to 6.7 per cent from its previous forecast of 7.3 per cent.
Opposition parties criticised the PM's speech with Left leader Sitharam Yechury tweeting:
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said:
No, Prime Minister, the economy hasn't slowed down for one quarter. It has been going down for 6 quarters now. #Jumlanomics- Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 4, 2017
While PM Modi did not make a mention of the RBI's downgrade of growth projections, he pointed out that the central bank has on Wednesday forecast that GVA growth will rise to 7.7 per cent in a few quarters.
PM Modi has once again tarnished RBI's image. Does the RBI & his Govt lie when it admits that we are heading for an Economic Slowdown? 2/- Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 4, 2017
"Taking into account the outturn in the first half, the baseline assumptions, survey indicators and model forecasts, real GVA growth is projected at 6.7 per cent for 2017-18 - 6.4 per cent in Q2, 7.1 per cent in Q3 and 7.7 per cent in Q4 - with risks evenly balanced around this baseline path," the RBI said on Wednesday.