NEW DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday asked the government to reverse its "disastrous" policies and heed to the advice of economists by printing more money and increase spending and not let another year go to waste.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi shared a graph of the rising unemployment rate and said, "PM's hall of shame - Minimum GDP. Maximum Unemployment." Congress leader P Chidambaram said all indicators point that the economy is in dire straits and said going by the performance of the economy in the last four quarters, 2020-21 has been the "darkest year" of the economy in four decades.
"If 2021-22 should not go the same way as 2020-21 did, the government must wake up, admit its errors of commission and omission, reverse its policies and heed the advice of economists and the Opposition," he told reporters.
"The current state of the economy is no doubt largely due to the impact of the pandemic, but it has been compounded by the ineptitude and incompetent economic management of the BJP-led NDA government," he charged.
The former finance minister said good advice by distinguished economists and renowned institutions has been rebuffed so far and world-wide experience has been ignored.
"Suggestions on fiscal expansion and cash transfers have been turned down. Hollow packages like Atmanirbhar have fallen flat," he said.
"We may note that Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee has called for printing money and increasing spending. Yet, even as recently as yesterday morning, the Finance Minister gave a long interview to some newspapers defending her misguided and disastrous policies," he said.
Taking potshots at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chief Economic Adviser's claims of a V-shaped economic recovery, he said, "It was a false story and we had expressed our strong reservations and warned there were no signs of a recovery."
"We had pointed out that what the economy needed was a strong dose of stimulus, including increased government expenditure, direct transfers of cash to the poor and liberal distribution of free rations. Our pleas fell on deaf ears, and the result is a negative growth of (-) 7.3 per cent," he said.
He also criticised the finance minister for treating the GST Council with disdain as she did not respond to any of the decisions pertaining to GST concessions for material used for Covid treatment.
"This is called procrastination. This is called not taking a decision. She has not responded on all decisions. What has come out of the meeting is zilch. I think the GST council is being treated with complete disdain and contempt by the FM," he said, calling for immediate payment of GST dues to states.
Chidambaram pointed out at unemployment is growing and has now crossed 11 per cent, labour force participation is declining and ore and more people are falling below the poverty.
"All these are indicators that the economy is in dire straits. All this points to deep misery among the poor people."
"This government is completely insensitive and completely impervious to what the lower middle class and the poor are facing," he alleged.
On the rise in fiscal deficit, the former finance minister said "This is not the time to worry about the fiscal deficit. It should not make any difference and it should not stop us."
"What we need is not lose another year like we lost last year. This is the time to act boldly and decisively. Borrow and spend. If necessary print money and spend on health infrastructure and on welfare measures, do cash transfers. Take steps now and try to prevent a disaster of a third wave or a fourth wave," he said.
Noting that the poor are suffering, he said, they must be given cash transfers and liberal free ration as they need them.
Pointing out to the views of CII and FICCI, the Congress leader said they have echoed our views and pleaded for fiscal expansion, including cash transfers to the poor.
The RBI's monthly review has flagged the 'demand shock' and its consequences and the CMIE report on loss of jobs and growing unemployment is alarming, he said.
The research and survey reports of Aziz Premji University have concluded that 23 crore people have been pushed below the poverty line and into indebtedness, he noted.
Chidambaram said the second wave of the pandemic is following the same pattern as the first wave, except that it has wrought more damage in terms of numbers of infections and deaths.