Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday criticised Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the present state of the Indian economy. Sinha, in his column in The Indian Express, said that despite low global oil prices, Jaitley had failed to use the extra finances at his disposal to revive the economy.
“I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the finance minister has made of the economy,” Sinha said. He claimed that his views were shared by many in the BJP, who were afraid to speak out.
Sinha said that three years after Jaitley became the finance minister, “private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, the construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane and exports have dwindled”. He added that demonetisation had proved to be “an unmitigated economic disaster”, and that the poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax had sunk many businesses.
He also attacked the government for the decline in the Gross Domestic Product growth rate to 5.7% in the April-June quarter. Sinha stressed that the government had changed the base year to calculate the GDP growth rate in 2015, and therefore, the present growth rate was actually 3.7% or lower under the old method of calculation. The former finance minister said that demonetisation was not responsible for the low growth rate, but had only “added fuel to the fire”.
Sinha also criticised the government for the ongoing farm crisis in the country. “The performance of the monsoon this year has not been flattering,” he wrote. “This will further intensify rural distress. The farmers have received massive loan waivers from some state governments varying from one paise to a few rupees in some cases.” He also said that the economic situation was unlikely to improve before the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.