Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday claimed that the big business made by movies shows that there is no economic slowdown in the country, ANI reported.

“I was information and broadcasting minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government,” Prasad said at a press conference in Mumbai. “So I like movies. Three movies were released on October 2. Film critic Komal Nahta told me that the national holiday of October 2 saw an earning of over Rs 120 crore – War, Joker and Sye Raa [Narasimha Reddy]. It’s only because the economy is sound that movies can fetch a return of Rs 120 crore in a single day.”

Prasad also claimed that the National Sample Survey Organisation’s report on unemployment data was false. The report had said that India’s unemployment figures had touched a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-’18.

“I say the report is false, with full responsibility,” Prasad said. “I gave you 10 numbers [on the economy]. None of these numbers are found in their report. Electronic manufacturing, IT sector, Mudra loan scheme...we had never said that everyone will get a government job. Some people had deliberately tried to mislead the public.”

A report in the Business Standard on January 31 had claimed that a study allegedly kept buried by the government found unemployment at a 45-year-high of 6.1% in 2017-’18 – the first full year after demonetisation. Opposition leaders had used it as an opportunity to attack the government for demonetisation and allegedly covering up the report, while experts in the field, such as economist Kaushik Basu, had expressed concern about the figures. Two members of the National Statistical Commission resigned after the government refused to release the data.

On May 31, the Centre released the report which confirmed that unemployment in the country stood at 6.1% of the total labour force in 2017-’18.

India’s Gross Domestic Product growth rate slipped to a six-year low of 5% for the first quarter of 2019-’20. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman subsequently introduced a number of measures, including reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 22%. The Reserve Bank of India has cut interest rates by 125 basis points this year.

However, the RBI also predicted that India will grow at 6.1% for the 2019-’20 financial year. Credit rating agency Moody’s said on Thursday that India’s slowdown in economic growth was driven by multiple and long-lasting factors. It predicted that the Indian economy will grow at just 5.8% in 2019-’20.

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