Yashwant Sinha poses 18 questions to P. Chidambaram on economy

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 31 2014, 01:09am hrs
Yashwant SinhaHe said the GDP growth rate has registered a mere 4.7 per cent in October-December quarter of 2013-14
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today accused Finance Minister P Chidambaram of "running the economy to the ground" and posed an 18-point questionnaire to him on price rise, economic growth and job fronts.

Sinha, himself a former Finance Minister, claimed that the high economic growth rate witnessed in the first four years of UPA-I (2004-2007) was largely on account of measures initiated by the NDA government and not because of any steps taken by UPA governments.

"You really harvested what was sown by us," he said.

"Is it fact that after 10 years of misrule by the UPA government economic growth rate has once again slowed down drastically...the GDP growth rate for seven consecutive quarters has been below 5 per cent" he asked.

He said the GDP growth rate has registered a mere 4.7 per cent in October-December quarter of 2013-14. Manufacturing and mining registered a decline of 1.9 per cent and 1.6 per cent during the quarter, he said further.

Sinha said these numbers would have been worse but for 7 per cent increase in the personal, community and social services category "reflecting irresponsible government spending rather than real economic expansion".

Taking a dig at Chidamabram, who had announced he would not be contesting this elections, Sinha asked: "Is it a fact that the markets have celebrated your announcement of not standing for the elections; that on March 19, 2014 when you made this announcement the BSE Sensex shot up by 125 points, that the forex market was also delighted and the rupee has strengthened considerably against the dollar since then."

On the issue of employment and job creation, quoting a survey by NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation), Sinha said that over 6 crore job opportunities were created between 1999-2000-2004-05 (NDA government) as opposed to 1.5 crore between 2004-05 to 2011-12 (UPA governments).

"Is it a fact that consumer price inflation has averaged around 10 per cent per annum between 2008 and 2013" Sinha asked Chidambaram.

Isn't this is the highest inflation rate in any major economy in the world and hasn't high inflation pushed millions of Indians below poverty line he further asked.

"Is it a fact that you have been made the Finance Minister thrice and that every time you have ended up running the economy to the ground and weakened the foundations of the Indian economy he asked Chidamabram.

Sinha alleged the UPA government allowed the fiscal deficit to cross all limits of sustainability in 2008-09 through "unproductive and irresponsible" government spending.

"Is it a fact you have drastically reduced Plan and productive allocations in the budget and taken recourse to questionable means to maintain fiscal deficits around 5 per cent of GDP and that you made a mockery of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act"

There is a crisis of confidence in our economy, therefore the consumption as well as investment is less, Sinha said.

In the press conference, Sinha also attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his comments that "money does not grow on trees". The Prime Minister's comment came in the wake of a hike in price of oil and petroleum products on September 21, 2012.

"We indeed know money does not grow on trees. You (the Prime Minister) did not tell us anything new," Sinha said.

But when Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi demanded a hike in the number of subsidised LPG cylinders from 9 to 12, the Prime Minister did not think of economics at that point, Sinha alleged.

Chidambaram had last week said that the markets were rallying on account of UPA government's corrective measures for the economy. Countering this, BJP leader Arun Jaitley had said that that the Congressmen were living in denial.

"The fact of the matter is Sri Chidambaram... will be remembered by history as a spoiler, as someone who specialises in sub 5 per cent growth rate, for your hubris and for your baseless tall claims which you do not tire making even today. Your words and statements have lost all credibility," Sinha said.

He alleged the policy and bureaucratic logjam has impacted 78,000 MW of power production in coal and gas plants causing a loss of Rs 42,000 crore.

"Is it a fact that corruption, policy paralysis and administrative sloth have led to a situation where 400 projects worth Rs 17.86 lakh crore in power, steel, coal, mining and petroleum sectors were pending with the Cabinet Committee on Investment for clearance in December 2013" Sinha asked.

External debt has jumped from USD 139 billion (March 2006) to USD 426 billion (December 2013), he claimed.

The country's foreign exchange reserves in 2006 was 109 per cent of external debt but it has dropped to 69 per cent in December, 2013, he claimed.

The country's short-term external debt, which was only 12.9 per cent of our forex reserves in March, 2006, has jumped to 31.5 per cent in December, 2013, he claimed.

"Is it a fact that your government had promised to build 22 kilometres of national highways per day when it was returned to power in 2009 and that it has been able to build 1.5 per kilometres per day and that the NHAI chief has already blamed the government for the woes which affect the sector"

National Highways Authority of India Chairman R P Singh had said that the sector's problems were not insurmountable and could have been easily fixed if only decisions had come fast on policy issues.