The Congress on Saturday claimed that the country’s debt increased to Rs 155 lakh crore in nine years under the Narendra Modi government from Rs 55 lakh crore under 14 prime ministers in 67 years

At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate alleged “economic mismanagement” since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014 has led to the staggering Rs 100 lakh crore increase in debt.

“Economic management is not the same thing as headline management,” Shrinate said. “It cannot be done through teleprompters and definitely not through WhatsApp forwards. We demand a white paper on the Indian economy because the fault lines are only getting deeper.”

The Congress spokesperson also alleged that 50% of Indians who own 3% of the country’s wealth paid 64% of the Goods and Services Tax while, the richest 10% who own 80% of the country’s resources paid only 3% of it.

In January, a report released by non-profit Oxfam India had said that while the income tax rates are based on income, indirect taxes are the same for all individuals irrespective of their earnings.

The report had said that the bottom 50% of the country’s population pays six times more on indirect taxation as a percentage of income as compared to the top 10%. Of the total taxes collected from food and non-food items, 64.3% was incurred by the bottom 50% of the population.

“India is bearing an annual cost of Rs 11 lakh crore as an interest payment to pay off this mounting debt,” Shrinate said on Saturday. “According to the CAG [Comptroller and Auditor General] report, our debt-stability in 2020 had gone to negative and then debt to GDP [gross domestic product] ratio was just 52.5%, now it is at 84%. Questions will now be raised on our ability to pay off our loan.”

The debt ratio compares a nation’s public debt to its gross domestic product. By comparing what a government owes with what it produces, the ratio indicates a country’s ability to pay back its debts.

In October, the International Monetary Fund had projected India’s debt ratio to be 84% of its gross domestic product by the end of 2022. This is higher than many emerging economies.

“It would be very important to give reassurance to people and to investors that things are under control, and things are going to become less vulnerable over time,” Paolo Mauro, the deputy director of the International Monetary Fund’s Fiscal Department, had said.

The IMF had also said that it was significant that India had to borrow 15% of its gross domestic product every year.

On Saturday, the Opposition party also raised question on how the government is utilising the loan.

“Are the poor or the middle class receiving any benefits from this loan,” Shrinate said. “Only the industrialists are receiving the benefits of this loan. Despite the loan 23 crore people have entered the Below Poverty Line category, income of 83% people has decreased, more than 11 thousand small-medium industries were closed, but the number of billionaires increased. Only Modi’s close friends are reaping the rewards of this debt.”

According to Oxfam report, the total number of billionaires in the India has increased from 102 in 2020 to 142 in 2021 and 166 in 2022.