Manmohan Singh favours ‘time-tested measures’ for economy

“Merely passing the buck to UPA’s regime is no solution to India’s problem”

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Geetanjali Minhas | October 18, 2019 | Mumbai


#Manmohan Singh   #Congress   #elections   #Maharashtra  
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh in Mumbai on Thursday
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh in Mumbai on Thursday

The much hyped ‘double engine’ model of governance on which the BJP is seeking votes has utterly failed, and Mumbai and Maharashtra have had to face some of the worst effects of economic slowdown, former prime minister Manmohan Singh has said.

A lot of problems facing Maharashtra today are man-made and the solutions lie in policies which are inclusive and welfare oriented, he said, addressing a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday, ahead of the state assembly elections.

“It is my sincere belief that we need to go back to policies which are time-tested measures if we are to ensure gainful employment, farmer welfare and a better standard of living for all. I can say without a doubt that the state will progress under the leadership of the Congress- NCP.”

Speaking on a range of issues including economic slowdown, job losses and farmer suicides, he said there is no viable solution to the problem of unemployment except in the framework of rapidly expanding economy. “We have to reverse the vicious slowdown. We have to ensure that labour intensive industries are given every possible encouragement to grow. We need credible measures to see that imports from abroad do not eat into our economy recklessly. These measures require a firm government in Delhi and credible policies.”

Coming down on the Narendra  Modi government  for pinning the blame of economic slowdown  on the earlier UPA government, he  said the present government has been in office for five and half years and it cannot claim year after year that the fault lies with UPA. “There were some weaknesses but this government has been in office or five and half years and this is a long enough period for a government which is committed to public welfare to do something credible. It should have learnt from our mistakes and provided credible solutions to those problems which are still affecting our economy.  Merely passing the buck to UPA’s regime is no solution to India’s problem. It may satisfy you but people will not be misled,” said Singh.

He was reacting to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement this week in New York that state-run banks in India had their “worst phase” when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister and Raghuram Rajan the RBI governor.

Dr Singh also said that with the growth rate declining year after year he does not see the Indian economy reaching the target of $5 trillion by 2024. “But this is true of all things the present government is doing. It talks in term of doubling farmers’ income but I don’t think they are in sight. It talks of many other things like [creating] two crore jobs, and the exactly the opposite is happening. The jobs are being destroyed instead of being added.”

Singh said that it is a government which believes in “headline management” and not in concrete achievement and that is exactly the problem our country is facing today. The economy needs a growth rate of 8-10 percent to solve the problem of unemployment and to deal with pressing issues. With a growth rate of 5.5-6 percent, many of these problems are not going to be solved and, therefore, the BJP’s double digit target will turn out to be hollow.

Referring to demonetization, he said there is hardly any institution in the world that has said the country has gained a result of that drastic move.

On the PMC Bank crisis, he said he hoped the RBI, the finance ministry and the Maharashtra government, will together apply their minds to find out a solution for the suffering of 16 lakh depositors. Singh said that if nothing else is done for those suffering serious health ailments, the Prime Ministers National Relief Fund should be utilized.

On BJP’s plan to implement the NRC, Manmohan Singh said he is not against legislation for NRC but it must not lose sight of the human problem that will arise in the process of investigating and finding effective means to ensure that only people who deserve to be excluded are excluded. While responding to the issue of nationalism being raised by the present government, Manmohan Singh said that the Congress party does not need a certificate from anybody.

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