Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday questioned a report on jobs data, which claimed that unemployment reached a 45-year high in 2017-’18, saying several datasets have indicated that jobs have been created by the Narendra Modi government.

“If there is no job creation, as alleged, there should have logically been a great social unrest in the country,” he said in a Facebook post. “Past five years have passed off without a single major protest movement.”

Jaitley said the Gross Domestic Product has grown at an average of 7.5% in the last five years. “If the inflation figure is added to this, the nominal growth, on an average will be between 11.5 to 12%,” he said. “Is it possible to conceive that such high nominal growth despite controlled inflation will not lead to any job creation?”

A report in Business Standard on Thursday claimed that the study that pointed out the high levels of unemployment in 2017-’18 – the first full financial year after demonetisation – was buried by the government. Two independent members of the National Statistical Commission, which prepared the study, resigned earlier this week, reportedly in protest against the government for not publishing it.

On the impact of demonetisation on the Gross Domestic Product, Jaitley said high tax collections in 2016-’17 and 2017-’18 were “an indicator of high growth in those two years”. “Growth is based on estimates, but tax collections are real,” the minister said.

Jaitley pointed out that that when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in 2016 that demonetisation would lead to a 2% drop in the GDP, it had caught the imagination of government’s critics. “Neither the original data for 2016-’17 and 2017-’18 nor the first revision proved that,” he added. “When demonetisation led to depositing the entire cash into the banking system and led many future transactions to be more recordable, logically the GDP had to grow post-demonetisation. The impact of demonetisation could only be transient as the government always maintained. The present data conclusively establishes this.”

The Centre on Thursday revised the Gross Domestic Product growth rate for the 2017-’18 financial year to 7.2% instead of the 6.7% estimated earlier.

Meanwhile, Jaitley also praised Piyush Goyal’s interim budget presented on Friday, describing it as “pro-growth, fiscally-prudent, pro-farmer and pro-poor” and one that strengthens the purchasing power of the middle class.

“The economic reforms undertaken by the NDA Government have unshackled Indian economy, unleashed its potential and made us a global leader in growth,” he said. Jaitley said every budget since 2014, when the National Democratic Alliance came to power, has given “significant relief” to the middle class.

Jaitley said presenting an interim Budgets gives the government an opportunity “to introspect their performance of the last five years and place its facts before the people”.

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