Amid buzz of stimulus to spur growth, finance minister Arun Jaitley said the government was in the process of addressing the challenges faced by the economy. But he sought to reject opposition’s criticism that the note ban caused the sharp slowdown in growth to a three-year low of 5.7% in the first quarter of this fiscal. “..whatever steps are required to change the (economic) environment we are certainly in the process of addressing that,” Jaitley said. The finance minister asserted that macro-economic data in the last three-and-a-half years revealed that the economy had been in a much better shape than what the current regime inherited.
Taking a dig at the Opposition, Jaitley said the Congress-led UPA had not “taken a single step against black money and corruption”. “Corruption and elimination of black money was never part of UPA’s politcial and economic agenda. It is obvious that any step against black money and corruption will never be supported by any UPA leader.” Jaitley said the services sector performance remained robust in the the April-June period, although manufacturing brought the GDP growth down. While pre-GST stock clearances hit manufacturing in Q1, the inability of bad loans-hit banks to boost lending impacted investments.
Earlier in the day, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had said “teething problems” happen when major reforms like GST and demonetisation are undertaken. While the Opposition has severely criticised the note ban, for its part, the government has said just because the notes were back with the banking system doesn’t mean they were all legally accounted-for cash. It also pointed at higher tax growth and compliance following note ban to suggest its intended objectives were being realised. Mining the data from demonetisation drive, the government had also identified over 18 lakh people whose income disclosed in tax returns were lower than their actual earnings. It has struck off 2.09 lakh shell companies from the register. Benami properties worth Rs 800 crore were identified as well.