New Delhi [India], June 2 (ANI): Hitting out at former union minister P Chidambaram for his criticism of the government's handling of economy, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said on Wednesday that the Congress leader had ignored hard data and "instead went ahead with 'whataboutery'" and noted that Indian economy will rebound in the times ahead based on consistent reforms.
In a pointed rebuttal to Chidambaram's remarks at a media interaction yesterday, Thakur said that consistent reforms and strong fundamentals have ensured India had a swift rebound from a contraction of 24.4 per cent in the 1st quarter of FY 2020-21 to a growth of 1.6 per cent in the 4th quarter of FY 2020-21.
"Indian economy is resilient and will rebound in the times ahead based on consistent reforms that have ensured strong fundamentals through these difficult times. I am not surprised that the Former Finance Minister chose to ignore hard data and instead went ahead with 'whataboutery' - the Congress leadership has embodied this clueless approach over the years," he said.
Referring to "gloomy forecast" portrayed by Chidambaram, Thakur said international agencies project India to grow by 12.5 per cent in FY 2021-22.
"While you doubt the resilience of Indian entrepreneurs, small businesses, traders and MSMEs to revive themselves, various international agencies project India to grow by 12.5 per cent in FY 2021-22 making us the only major economy to have a projected double digit growth," he said.
"Is the Indian economy an island in isolation; have other major economies not faced a GDP contraction? Are you not aware that France, Germany, Italy, UK contracted by 8.2 per cent, 4.9 per cent, 8.9 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively. Canada, Russia, South Africa, USA too have seen contraction in their GDP in the past year. Despite the disruptions in the globalised world, India has remained resilient," he added.
He said it is evident that the lockdown saved lives, gradual unlocking allowed green shoots.
"The record Rs 1.44 lakh crore GST collection - the highest ever till date - corroborates this. We recorded growth in passenger vehicle sales, two- wheeler sales, oil consumption, steel production, cement production, international air cargo amongst other areas. High-frequency monthly core sector data also shows that the 8 core industries were seeing a rebound.
Index of Eight Core Industries grew 11.4 per cent in March 2021 and a staggering 56.1 per cent in April 2021. Latest GDP data shows that the manufacturing sector grew 6.9 per cent in the January-March 2021 quarter, construction sector at 14.5 per cent, steel and cement sectors grew 27.3 per cent and 32.7 per cent respectively in March 2021. Important to note, since this growth is over and above the pre-lockdown period of March 2020, the two sectors grew 400 per cent and 549 per cent in April 2021," he said.
Referring to cash transfers, Thakur said the NDA government (2014-19) disbursed Rs 8 lakh crore on procurement of wheat and rice versus Rs 3.74 lakh crore during the UPA tenure (2009-14).
He said Modi government purchased 74 times more pulses at MSP than that procured during UPA tenure (2009-14).
"The NDA government procured 306.9 million tonnes of paddy and 162.7 million tonnes of wheat in last five years versus the period 2009-13 during the UPA tenure wherein only 176.8 million tonnes of paddy and 139.5 million tones of wheat was procured."
Accusing the Congress of "misleading farmers on farm laws" he said, "farmers are happy and have differentiated the truth from the false narrative of congress leaders".
Referring to Chidambaram's demand for "cash transfers," Chidambaram asked if PM-KISAN scheme "does not give the farmer cash in hand".
He asked how many bank accounts for the poor were opened during the UPA rule. "Modi government, by opening 42 crore Jan Dhan accounts, has stopped leakages in the system ensuring every rupee reaches its intended beneficiary swiftly even during the COVID-19 pandemic through Direct Bank Transfers. This has provided financial empowerment to millions."
He said DBT was also done to several other sections of society and total transfers exceed Rs 68,000 crore. "Is that not 'cash in hand'?" he asked.
The minister said NDA government had increased MGNREGA allocation during the COVID-19 period last year from Rs 61,500 crore to a historic high of over 1 lakh crore. "We also increased wages to Rs 202," he said.
He alleged that UPA government "disbursed bad loans" when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. "We have provided Rs 3 lakh crore government guarantee through the ECLGS scheme to the industry to sustain and revive their business. MSMEs, hospitality, travel and tourism, leisure, sporting sectors, healthcare etc are all covered. Modi government has adopted a participatory and response approach unlike its predecessor the UPA. Over Rs 2.65 lakh crore has been sanctioned by public and private sector banks, NBFCs to over 92 lakh accounts. Does this not provide 'cash' flow for businesses?" he asked. (ANI)