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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Can’t reach $5 trillion economy goal with current growth rate: Manmohan Singh

With the growth rate declining, there is no hope of reaching this target by 2024, Manmohan Singh said on Thursday.

business Updated: Oct 18, 2019 00:03 IST
Jayshree P Upadhyay and Anuja
Jayshree P Upadhyay and Anuja
Hindustan Times, Mumbai/New Delhi
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said achieving the $5 trillion target for the economy is not possible in the current circumstances.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said achieving the $5 trillion target for the economy is not possible in the current circumstances.(PTI Photo)
         

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said achieving the $5 trillion target for the economy, set by the Narendra Modi administration, is not possible under current circumstances, with annual growth projected to cool to 6% or slower according to some estimates.

With the growth rate declining, there is no hope of reaching this target by 2024, Singh said on Thursday. “For reaching the $5 trillion mark, the economy would need to grow at 10-12% per annum. What is happening under the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government is that the growth rate is declining. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has come up with a statement that India’s growth rate will be only 6.1% as against 7%, which was mentioned some months ago,” said Singh.

IMF on Tuesday slashed its economic growth forecast for India to 6.1% for the current fiscal from its July projection of 7%, citing weaker than expected outlook for domestic demand. IMF also lowered India’s FY21 GDP growth forecast by 20 basis points to 7.2%.

Singh was addressing a meeting of representatives of the business community on the state of the economy in Mumbai. Maharashtra is heading to the polls on October 21. Singh, a veteran Congress leader, held the interaction as part of the party’s campaign in the poll-bound state.

Singh, an economist widely credited for ushering in the economic liberalization in India as the finance minister at the time, maintained that respective BJP-led governments at the Centre and in states are obsessed with “fixing blame on its opponents” rather than adopting people-oriented policies.

“They talk about doubling the foreign flows; I don’t think they are in sight. They talk about creating two crore jobs, but exact opposite is happening. The government is only interested in headline management and not concrete steps,” he said.

Responding to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent statement that public sector banks had the “worst phase” under the combination of former prime minister Singh and former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, Singh said: “This government has now been in office for five years. It should have learnt from our mistakes and provided a credible solution for the economy.”

“The industrial slowdown is coming in the way of India optimally utilising its demographic dividend,” Singh said.

Making a specific pitch for Maharashtra, he said that while the state used to be the number one in investment, it was now infamous for being the state with the highest number of farmer suicides. “Maharashtra used to be number one in investment; today, it is a leader in farmer suicides. They are caught between the trap of low income and high debt,” he said.