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Cong, BJP spar over RBI's decision to transfer Rs 1.76 lakh crore to govt

twitter-logoPTI | August 27, 2019 | Updated 21:42 IST

(Eds: Updating, combining related stories) New Delhi, Aug 27 (PTI) The RBI's decision to transfer Rs 1.76 lakh crore of its surplus reserves to the government triggered a political storm on Tuesday with the Congress accusing the government of "stealing" the central bank's money to hide its economic failures and the BJP hitting back, saying looting is the Congress' "expertise". Asserting that the decision to take such a huge amount from the RBI reserves will have "catastrophic" consequences, the Congress alleged that the government was pushing the economy towards bankruptcy and an economic emergency. The BJP countered these charges, saying the money is being used for national interest. The opposition party's stinging criticism came a day after the Reserve Bank of India approved the transfer of a record Rs 1.76 lakh crore dividend and surplus reserves to the government to provide fresh impetus to the economy without widening fiscal deficit. Reacting sharply to the RBI's decision, the Congress said on its Twitter handle "when you strip the RBI of its reserves you're leaving the Reserve Bank vulnerable to a series of disasters. The contingency fund is for emergency situations, not to cover up for the govt's economic failures." "Prime Minister and Finance Minister are clueless about how to solve their self created economic disaster. Stealing from the RBI won't work - it's like stealing a Band-Aid from the dispensary and sticking it on a gunshot wound," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged on Twitter, using the hashtag "RBILooted". Gandhi was joined by other Congress leaders, including Anand Sharma, Randeep Surjewala and Jairam Ramesh in his attack against the Modi government. In a strong counter, Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she does not care about such charges and the opposition leader should have spoken to the finance ministers from his party before hurling such charges. "Congress should have consulted its finance minister and seniors before making these allegations regarding the RBI. Yet, they have become consummate in making such allegations of stealing and I do not want to pay much heed to this," she said. Sitharaman also said questioning the credibility of the RBI, which had constituted the Bimal Jalan committee on determining the excess capital, is a "worrying" sign. Attacking Gandhi, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said,"Rahul Gandhi is obsessed with stealing. That is where his expertise lies and this was visible during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government. Therefore, many Congress leaders are mired in corruption scandals and the Congress has become synonymous with corruption." Asserting that funds from the RBI will serve national purpose, Rao said therefore, Gandhi's comments are both "immature" as well as showed his "distorted" understanding of economy. Charging the government with "monumental mismanagement" on economic front, Sharma demanded a white paper from the government on the state of country's economy within a week. Data on projects underway and investments in public and private sectors together with the actual factory output should also be released, he said and also asked the government to come out with a report on the country's export scenario and the credit offtake by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and the agriculture sector within two weeks. "We charge this Government of monumental mismanagement of Indian economy which is now in serious crisis. It is not a recession or a downturn, the situation is grim. India is now in the midst of the worst ever financial crisis. This Government is pushing the country towards bankruptcy because of its policies," he said, adding that the prime minister and finance minister cannot remain in denial. "The government made wrong budget, it's in loss. That's why they snatched RBI's money and pushed the country towards an economic emergency," he told reporters. "The decision will have catastrophic consequences. It is very clear that the Government has done it out of sheer desperation. Its policies have brought the Indian economy to ruin. Our GDP has been continuously falling," the Congress leader said. Sharma said the RBI now has no money to tackle any economic eventuality as it cannot go below the benchmark of 5.5 per cent reserves. In a separate tweet, Congress chief spokesperson Surjewala wondered whether the move was "fiscal prudence or fiscal hara-kiri". He said Modi 2.0 has converted the 'R' in RBI from 'Reserve' to 'Ravaged'. "Contingency Reserve of the RBI is meant for extreme financial emergencies and war-like situations is being used by the BJP Government to bury its monumental mess on economic front! BJP has finished RBI's credibility!" he said. Making a reference to former RBI governor Urjit Patel and deputy governor Viral Acharya to make his point, Jairam Ramesh said they held the fort and "they were forced to leave. The fort was breached." "The Government of India now usurps a huge windfall from the RBI going contrary to what the central bank's own think tank CAFRAL had said. Fiscal breathing space but at what and whose cost?" he alleged in a tweet. Using wordplay to make his point, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said, "Robbed Bank of India: RBI". CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury hit out at the Centre and alleged the government had "appropriated" 99 per cent of the profits of India's central banking institution since 2014. A politburo statement said the RBI was a "lender of the last resort" and condemned the manner in which its reserves were being utilized. Speaking to reporters in Hyderabad, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi claimed that "the Modi government is the first government which is taking 99.99 per cent of RBI's profit. Earlier, governments used to take 50 per cent." He also alleged that the NDA government has proved to be a failure in creating jobs. PTI SKC JTR ASG PYK PYK

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