Alleging that hastily designed economic package and the much-hyped Rs 20 lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat plan announced by the Prime Minister in May were a dismal failure in protecting and reviving India’s ravaged economy, Congress launched a scathing attack on Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Congress spokesperson Professor Gourav Vallabh, and party leader Praveen Chakravarty, attacked the NDA government at a press conference held yesterday.

They said at the press conference that first, they were glad that the Finance Minister had a belated realisation that consumer demand needed to be stimulated in the economy, something that they and almost every other sensible economist had clamoured for, over the last six months.

They added that the Minister first announced a hastily designed economic package that had no impact, it was also a clear admission that the much-hyped Rs 20 lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat plan announced by the Prime Minister in May was a dismal failure in protecting and reviving India’s ravaged economy.

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They further went on to assert that the Centre had not yet learnt its lesson from the past experience. They added that just because the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister called these measures an economic stimulus does not mean the economy would obey and get stimulated. They said that the economy could not be dictated to or swayed by headlines.

The Congress leaders said that government employees already are entitled to leave travel concession (LTC) as part of their salary and the Finance Minister just “ordered government employees how to spend their own money and called it a stimulus for demand. They also said that the only way to stimulate demand in the country is by putting money in the hands of the people.

“It should truly be cash in hand and not a diversion of cash from one area to another like the government has announced in case of LTC cash voucher scheme and festival advance. The FM forgot the most basic lesson about money – it is fungible. Whether it is called LTC or festival advance, money is money for the individual. Unless there is additional money, the individual is not going to spend more. So, where is the question of a demand stimulus?” they said.

They further posed questions over the money given to the States and said that the paltry 1.3 per cent extra had been allotted to them, highlighting that the FM announced extra Rs 12,000 crores to States for capital expenditure while the States’ total capital expenditure budget for FY21 is nearly Rs 9 lakh crores.

“Overall, the measures announced are merely that – announcements. There was no extra spending to boost demand and the increase in states’ capital expenditure are paltry and untimely. This is yet another indication that the Modi government is at its wits’ ends when it comes to managing the economy,” the Congress said.

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