Govt's $5 trillion economy will remain a pipe dream if slowdown continues: Manmohan Singh
PTI September 13, 2019
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said there was no hope of Modi government's promise of USD 5 trillion economy becoming a reality if growth kept going down the way it has for the last five quarters.
Addressing Congress leaders at a meeting here, he said that at least one million people may lose their jobs if a stimulus package is not given to the auto sector, which is crying for aid, and investment in the private sector is not promoted.
"The country today is in the midst of a dangerously protracted slowdown. And this is something which is not the statement being made only by the Congress party people but everywhere whether you talk to people in the industry, journalists -- the common theme is that the economy is going from bad to worse.
"The dangerous thing about the present situation is that the government is complacent enough to not realise that we are in the midst of a protracted economic slowdown," the former prime minister said.
Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about achieving USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 but in the present situation it looks like a "piped dream".
He said the size of the economy was USD 2.7 trillion in the current financial year and to reach USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, the country needs a growth rate of 12 per cent by the nominal terms and 9 per cent in real terms.
"If the economy is going the way it has been going down quarter after quarter, then there is no hope that the prime minister's promise of a USD 5 trillion economy becoming reality," Singh said.
He said the general feeling in the industry is that if the present trend of auto sales is not reversed, there will be at least a million people who would face the prospect of losing their job.
"Therefore, the atmosphere in the country as a whole is that of gloom and doom. One could hope that the BJP government would come out with a package to stimulate demand, to promote investment.
"But you talk to any body in the industry today, the general feeling is that there is tax terrorism in place of incentivising investment and that's the reason why private sector investment is sluggish and there are no signs that private sector investment will pick up," he said.
Singh said the stock markets are showing signs of reacting to this atmosphere of gloom.
He said the responsibility of the Congress party is to tell the country that the promises that were made by the BJP during the elections are being ignored and the economic reality of the country are very different from the targets that were set.
"It is our responsibility and it is our duty to take all this message to the country and to point out how the BJP has misled the country and what is being now done is only cosmetic to push up the atmosphere," he said.
If income growth slows down month after month, quarter after quarter, the scope for creating more jobs for our young people is going to be very seriously affected, Singh said.
The growth rate has declined for five successive quarters and now it stands at 5 per cent, he noted, adding that the real wage rate in agriculture have been static for the last five years of the BJP government.
Singh said the manufacturing sector has been affected for want of demand, for want of investment incentives, and the result is that there is an all-round atmosphere of gloom.
He said the rupee is getting weaker and advantage could be take to push up exports but outbound shipments in the last five years of the BJP government have been sluggish, resulting in the balance of payments situation getting worse.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in the INX Media case, hailed Singh's comments, saying he hopes that the government has the wisdom to heed his advice.