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GDP a 'fancy figure', growth must translate to well-being on ground: Kamal Nath

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: January 23, 2019  | 18:12 IST

By Barun Jha (Eds: Adding quotes) Davos, Jan 23 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath Wednesday referred to gross domestic product (GDP) as a "fancy figure" and said that economic growth must translate into well-being of people on ground. At a session on emerging market outlook at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 here, Nath also strongly defended his government's farm loan waiver decision, saying the agricultural sector in India and particularly in his state has been in distress. Referring to the latest IMF forecast for the Indian economy, he said, "GDP is a fancy figure and at times it can be misleading as one needs to see where all a 7.5 per cent growth figure translates into." Defending the loan waiver, the senior Congress leader, who also had a long stint in the central government in various ministries, said it was necessary as agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy and he had to take into account the distress the farmers were in. He said the waiver amounts to USD 8 billion, but what it also means is taking over the loans of scheduled banks that had gone bad and the lenders had taken a haircut in the process. Anyway, an NPA would have hit the balance sheet of the banks and the decision was in their interest as well, Nath maintained. Talking about the global economic scenario, he said the global order is changing. "The world has changed but some of the people have not," he said, adding that the US leadership may think what they have done may be good but they need to realise that things have changed in terms of the world order. McKinsey & Company Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader said business leaders are very confident about their own business but they are worried about others' businesses. In the same panel, Hong Kong SAR Government CEO Carrie Lam said there are some underlying worries about global trade, but she is positive. Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said Turkey is the only stable economy in its region but it has learnt a lot from the problems in the area. He also said Turkey and the US have a very important relationship. He said Turkish economy has strengthened its immune system in a big way. Agility CEO Tarek Sultan Al Essa, the only corporate leader on the panel, said China and the US are still growing at a healthy rate while emerging markets are showing a superior growth rate. He said there is a need to understand what is holding SMEs back and how to make them contribute more to the global economic growth. Central Bank of Argentina Governor Guido Sandleris said Latin America is expected to grow much better this year as economies like Brazil and Argentina are likely to expand. At another session on 'More than GDP', OECD chief Angel Gurria said hundreds of millions of people do not like their state in life, they want something else. However, it has nothing to do with GDP, but with the quality of life, with the integration of refugees, he said. The OECD report on New Zealand is going to be based on the well-being agenda, he added. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that most politicians want to increase the well-being of their people, not boost GDP. "What gets measured, gets done," she said, seeking broadening of what gets measured. Economic growth must be measured but so too should homelessness and mental health, she argued. "We need to address the societal well-being of our nation, not just the economic well-being," Ardern said. "GDP is here to stay, but there have to be other comparatives," she said, citing the Better Life Index produced by the OECD that her government is using to inform its work. University College London Professor Mariana Mazzucato pointed out that most GDP growth in the UK has been driven by consumption, which is often fuelled by debt and could push it back towards a financial crisis. "There's a lack of attention to the difference between price and value. GDP counts up prices but neglects to take social value into account," she noted. PTI BJ ABM ABM

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