Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said India would replace Britain as the fifth-largest economy in the world by next year if the country continues to grow at the projected rate. In a Facebook post titled “The Congress Gave Slogans to Rural India - Prime Minister Modi Gave Resources”, Jaitley said: “This is in consonance with the rest of the narrative. Being the fastest growing economy for the last four years, we can look at the next decade as one of economic expansion.”

According to the latest World Bank data, India has overtaken France to become the world’s sixth-biggest economy. India’s Gross Domestic Product was $2.597 trillion (Rs 178 lakh crore) at the end of last year against $2.582 trillion (Rs 177 lakh crore) for France.

India’s per capita GDP, however, is still a fraction of that of France. This is due to the difference between the populations of the two countries – India has 134 crore inhabitants, France just 6.7 crore. “Obviously, on account of disparity in the size of the population, there would be a very significant difference in the per capita of the two countries,” Jaitley added.

But he warned that rising international crude oil prices and a global trade war may pose challenges for India. Crude oil prices have gone up from $66 (approximately Rs 4,500) a barrel in April to about $75 (approximately Rs 5,100). “Today we stand to be tested in the midst of a global challenge thrown up on account of the international crude oil prices and the trade war,” the minister added.

Jaitley said the Centre has ensured that its schemes will benefit everyone. While the Congress provided the poor with slogans while Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave them resources, he added.

“The 1971 ‘Garibi Hatao’ model was one of redistribution of poverty rather than the generation of wealth and resources,” Jaitley observed. “On the contrary, the present prime minister is a man of many words and many more actions. He announces stiff targets and programmes which at first sight appear to be difficult, if not impossible. He follows it up with the actual implementation and delivers the promise.”

He lauded the government’s Jan Dhan programme, and said the scheme has connected each home to a bank. “It has facilitated the delivery of credit to the weakest,” the minister said. He also praised the Atal pension scheme.