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Published On: Wed, Oct 4th, 2017

Slowdown ‘Exaggerated By Pessimists’, Modi says govt working for India’s future

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pm-modi-icsi-pti_650x400_71507133614NEW DELHI :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today refuted criticism of his government’s handling of the economy, stating a “handful of people” are trying to spread a contagion of pessimism based on the slowdown of the last economic quarter, when growth slowed to 5.7 per cent, the lowest in three years.
“There were six occasions under the previous government when the growth rate fell to 5.7% or lower,” he says.Participating in an event organised to mark the start of the golden jubilee year of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called demonetisation move a great success and hit out at critics who spoke of an economic slowdown.

The government, PM Modi said, did not deny that growth had slid in the April-June quarter, but said it was “committed and capable” of reversing the setback and “ready to take decisions.” He said it was not the first time that GDP growth had declined to that level; during the previous Congress-led UPA regime, it was below 5.7 per cent eight times, he said, adding that, “There were quarters when growth was 0.2 per cent, 1.5 per cent.” That decline, he said, was more dangerous for the economy, because in those years India was battling “higher inflation, higher current account deficit and higher fiscal deficit”.

Yashwant Sinha, a veteran of PM Narendra Modi’s party BJP, sparked a huge debate last week over the state of the economy. “There are some people who sleep well only after they spread a feeling of pessimism. We need to recognise such people,” said PM Modi, who was addressing company secretaries from all over the country. He asserted that “I will not jeopardise the future of the country for my present gains,” adding the government would focus on structural reforms rather than giving doles to win praise.

In the last three years, the Prime Minister said, his government has brought in 87 big and small reforms in 21 sectors, making a comparison of the performance of key sectors with that during Congress rule in his over an hour-long speech. “Since June, commercial vehicle sales up 23% and passenger vehicles up 12%, two-wheeler sales up over 14%. What would you say to that?” the Prime Minister asks.

He goes on to say, “Domestic air traffic up 14% in last two months, Air freight volumes up 16%, telephone subscribers up by over 14%. What would you say? “These indicators show an uptick in urban demand & in rural sector. This happens when people are confident,” he says. “Three months after GST, we have got feedback on all nitty-gritties. And I have told the GST Council must review all problems now,” the PM says.
“I want to assure traders across the country – Hum Lakeer ke Fakeer nahi hain. We don’t claim we know everything. This government is with you and will do all it takes to make GST simpler,” Mr. Modi says.
‘I am not an economist’ I am neither an economist nor have I ever claimed to be an economist, the Prime Minister says.
On economic slowdownFundamentals are strong and the government would ensure that financial stability is maintained, PM Modi said, promising steps that will “take the country into a new league”. Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram (left) of the Congress has also attacked centre’s economic policies.
Meanwhile , The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) acknowledged the weaker growth today, cutting its end-March projection for gross value added or GVA – the indicator of economic growth it prefers – to 6.7 per cent from its previous forecast of 7.3 per cent. Opposition parties criticised the PM’s speech with Left leader Sitharam Yechury tweeting:Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said:While PM Modi did not make a mention of the RBI’s downgrade of growth projections, he pointed out that the central bank has today forecast that GVA growth will rise to 7.7 per cent in a few quarters.
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