Govt package only worth Rs 3.22 lakh cr and 1.6% of GDP, not Rs 20 lakh cr: Cong

    New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) The Congress on Sunday accused the government of misleading people with its 'trickery, fakery, quackery' and said the economic measures announced by the Centre amounted to only 1.6 per cent of India's GDP, i.e. worth Rs 3.22 lakh crore instead of Rs 20 lakh crore as claimed by the Prime Minister.

Congress' senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said Prime Minister Narendra Modi must 'walk the talk' and announce the required measures by giving money in the hands of the poor and small and medium enterprises to help reboot the economy.

He noted that there was a difference between providing stimulus to the economy and merely giving loans and credit to people.

Sharma, a former union minister, challenged the finance minister for a debate on the economic package while raising questions about the announcements made by the prime minister.

'The government's economic package is only of Rs 3.22 lakh crore and is only 1.6 per cent of India's GDP and is not worth Rs 20 lakh crore as announced by the prime minister,' Sharma said while addressing a press conference through video conferencing. 'I am questioning the Finance Minister, disputing the announcement of Prime Minister and challenging the government to disprove me on the numbers given by me and am ready for a debate with the finance minister,' he said.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram said the Additional Borrowing and Additional Expenditure (over and above the Expenditure Budget of Rs 30,42,230 crore) will be the true measure of the fiscal stimulus.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, '20LakhCrorePackage of PM-FM is Anti-Poor, Anti-Farmer, Anti-Labour, Anti-Shopkeepers, Anti-Salaried Class, Anti-MSMEs & Anti-India. India gets Trickery, Fakery, Quackery. No wonder, 20LakhCrore=0000000000000 (Only Thirteen Zeros).' Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also took to Twitter saying, 'Fiscal cost of the grand '10 pc of GDP' package is ONLY approx. 1 pc of GDP. Modi govt obstinately focuses on medium-term supply side measures while ignoring: Massive demand slump. Immediate relief for COVID19 Crisis. Maximum Lies, Minimum Stimulus.' Sharma said the Congress wants to convey that there is a huge difference between, what is wage support, income support, financial support and stimulus to the economy as compared to the borrowing, credit and additional loan.

The former union minister said the debt has to be monetized with any deficit and the government should be prepared so that adequate provisions are made and help reaches the poor as well as adequate emergency transfer of funds is made to the states.

He noted that to tell the states that the Centre is increasing the time limit of their borrowing from 14 days to 21 days is no support to the states, adding that there should be an actual transfer of emergency funds as per the states' requirements which has not been made.

The Congress leader also questioned the government on decisions taken to open up sensitive sectors, including the nuclear sector, to private players and entities because their partners would be foreigners.

'Our sensitive nuclear data, India's data concerning space, the data which is available with the ISRO, is highly classified data,' Sharma said.

The opposition leader said amid the coronavirus pandemic, the National Disaster Management Act has not empowered the government to embark upon a 'grand clearance sale' of India's national assets. 'These issues will have to be discussed, revisited and corrected.' He raised concerns over Parliament not been convened and government not allowing meetings of Parliamentary committees through online video meetings, as is happening in other countries.

'We would like to remind the Government of India, irrespective of the lockdown, with a main parliamentary democracy, during the lockdown period the Government does not have any authorization to take an arbitrary decision. There are national consensuses and Parliamentary approval would be required. Other parliaments are meeting. Parliamentary committees are meeting, whether in America, it is the US House Committee, Senate Committee, which is approving all the packages,' he said.

Sharma said in the UK, the Prime Minister and other ministers are present in parliamentary meetings and other shadow organs and all other members are connected during the emergency situation.

So is the case in 23 countries as their parliaments have met through virtual sessions and they continued to meet, he said.

'What is happening in India? We are the largest democracy. We are taking ordinance route arbitrarily. These issues that have far reaching implications to India's national security are involved, also what we have as our national assets, those have been assiduously built since independence, all our PSUs, which this Government now threatens through disinvestment, were to sell off,' he alleged.

The Congress leader further said the Finance Minister should answer questions and not ask questions instead. He also demanded that the government provide answers to the country on the plight of migrants forced to walk on roads due to lack of planning on the part of the central government.

Saying that the country expects some 'gravitas' from the finance minister, Sharma also asked the government to apologise to the poor citizens of the country who have been abandoned and their fundamental rights and legal rights violated. PTI SKC RDM RDM