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Chidambaram takes a dig at Narendra Modi govt over Air India divestment

Indivjal Dhasmana/New Delhi 12 Jun 18 | 03:11 AM

The Congress slammed the Narendra Modi government for mismanaging’ the economy which slowed down the GDP growth and led to rampant unemployment. 

The party blamed the government for “allowing" Nirav Modi and Mehul Chosky, the main accused in the Rs 143 billion Punjab National Bank scam, to flee the country. It also hit out at the government for its “confused" policy on Air India disinvestment. 

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The Congress fielded its senior leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram to attack the government on its performance during its four-year rule. 

To a question on the PNB scam, Chidambaram said, “I know they (the government) have made no effort to get the two back and in fact I doubt if they are making any effort.

Our position has always been that they allowed both the gentlemen that we are talking about to leave the country. Having allowed them to leave the country, we doubt very much that they are making any effort to get the two back."

On Air India disinvestment, he said it is not clear as to what the government intended to do. “It is neither privatisation, nor an arrangement to run it as a joint venture. Without a clear policy objective, you cannot succeed in selling 74% stake. You must have a clear policy objective," he said.

He said that nobody is going to bid when the market is totally confused about the objectives of the government. 

“Please remember, even 24 hours before the bidding was due to close, the ministry of civil aviation put out a statement that there will be a flood of applications in the last 24 hours. I think the government was totally confused about what it wanted to do. It must first sort out its mind before it attempts to tackle the Air India problem," the former finance minister said. 

ALSO READ: Three of four wheels of Indian economy are punctured by NDA: Chidambaram

Chidambaram said demonetisation has slowed the economic growth to 6.7 per cent in 2017-18 from 8.2 per cent in 2015-16, proving that his and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statements that the GDP growth will fall by 1.5%  was correct.

He alleged that joblessness is rampant and the government has stopped the quarterly labour bureau survey for October-December, 2017. “The only reliable data was 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 20 million jobs a year that was promised as part of ‘achhe din’," he said. 

ALSO READ: Chidambaram lauds Pranab for praising Congress' ideology at RSS event

He said a flawed road to GST continues to haunt trade and business. 

Chidambaram added the RBI’s Consumer Confidence Survey (May 2018) found that 48 per cent of those surveyed felt that economic conditions had worsened in the last 12 months. The survey is unlikely to have covered the most backward parts of the country or the most deprived sections of the society. 

Therefore, the figure of 48 per cent will be actually higher, he added.

He said three tyres (exports, private investments and capital formation) of the four wheels on which the economy rides are punctured.  

Job surveys have limitations: Govt

The government said the quarterly job surveys have several limitations. For instance, these surveys effectively capture the employment size of about 20.40 million workers only as against  the total workforce of about 470 million. 

As such, the government has constituted a technical committee under the chairmanship of former chief statistician TCA Anant to look into these aspects and submit its report at the earliest, it said. 

The ministry of statistics and programme implementation said the statistical processes involved in producing macro-economic estimates are transparent and open. These are in line with best international standards and practices, it said.  The ministry said it has decided to revise the base year for the macro-economic numbers from 2011-12 to 2017-18.

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