The Prime Minister’s statement on the economy was greeted by a blistering attack from the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Leader of the Opposition in the House, Arun Jaitley said investors had lost confidence in the government and the country. “Has the Prime Minister realised that the world — global media and investors — had warned us. Policy paralysis was a phrase used in the last few years,” he said. “The image of India as a business destination has been lost.”
He said corruption had led to a spiral effect on investor confidence. He pointed to coal import despite huge reserves, saying this was pushing up the current account deficit. He sought to know why the Prime Minister had done nothing when retrospective taxation was proposed. He also blamed “electoral expenditure after 2007 for the problem, adding that populism was still on.
CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury compared the speech of the PM with his speech as finance minister in 1991: the current account deficit then was 2.5% of the GDP, while now it is 4.8%; as now, there was inflation in essential commodities even then. It was only in forex reserves that India was better placed than those days, he said, wondering how the PM called the “fundamentals” of the economy strong.
Yechury wondered why the PM said nothing about subsidies to the rich in the form of incentives.
CPI’s D Raja said the fundamentals of the economy were actually public sector industries, banks and insurance companies, which were being weakened by government, which was opening up all sectors.
SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, JD(U)’s NK Singh and BSP’s Satish Mishra, among others, also sought clarifications.