The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 11 , 2014
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Reaction precedes action
FM blames UPA before listing challenges

New Delhi, June 10: Finance minister Arun Jaitley today said the Narendra Modi-government has inherited a cracked economy from the UPA — characterised by low growth, high inflation, a stubbornly high fiscal deficit, weak tax collections and a complete loss of enthusiasm among domestic and foreign investors in the India story.

“In 2004, when you came into power, you had inherited an 8.5 per cent growth from the NDA. What did we inherit? For the last two years, India's growth has been less than 5 per cent. It is a disappointing figure ... You left the country with low economic growth,” Jaitley said.

Referring to President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the nation, Jaitley said, “The speech is the futuristic vision of India; it is government’s road map for several years.”

Taking a dig at the Congress, Jaitley said the party should introspect after its massive loss.

“India has grown at less than 5 per cent in the last two years. This is disappointing. India could have achieved 5 per cent growth even without a government,” Jaitley said.

In his address to a joint Parliament session yesterday, President Pranab Mukherjee said putting the Indian economy back on track was paramount for the new government.

“On the economic front, we are passing through an extremely difficult phase. For two consecutive years, our GDP growth has been less than 5 per cent. Tax collection has declined. Inflation continues to be at an unacceptable level. Thus, putting the Indian economy back on track is paramount for my government,” the President had said.

Jaitley suggested that the current situation of the country was mostly because former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not “tough” when the situation warranted, including on 2G spectrum and coal block allocation issues.

“The enthusiasm in the Indian economy was shattered. Domestic investors were moving out. If there is no investment, there is no job. You have left the country, in your own words, not at poverty alleviation, but at elevated poverty,” Jaitley said.

Describing the UPA rule as an era of “missed opportunity”, he referred to specific sectors such as the railways, highways, rural infrastructure, ports and airports, which had hardly seen any improvement.

“We have major challenges... reviving the national economy. Manufacturing growth gone into negative... where are jobs?” Jaitley said.

He said India had missed the manufacturing bus and this was the last chance to make the country a hub for low-cost manufacturing.

Jaitley said the President’s speech outlined the NDA government’s vision for India’s future, and that caste politics and dynasties could not replace governance.

He pointed out that this election was about the faith that the country placed on the new government so the burden was higher because of people’s expectations.

Quoting Modi’s oft-repeated statement that the participation of the states was important for the country’s growth, Jaitley said the government would take states along and address their problems.

The government will work to push the country’s growth which has been stuck at the “disappointing” level of less than 5 per cent for the last two years.

“Election results itself have become an important political statement. Once again domestic and foreign investors have started looking at India. Therefore, for us, who are the repository of public confidence, the onus is on us whether we can convert this into opportunity or not,” he said.