New Delhi: India’s latest quarterly GDP figures have drawn sharp criticism from former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who on Friday called them and the country’s broader economic situation “unacceptable” and “deeply worrying”.
“The GDP figures released earlier today point that the growth rate of our economy for the second quarter of this fiscal year is as low as 4.5%. This is clearly unacceptable. The aspirations of our people want that this country should grow at 8%-9% per annum. The sharp decline of GDP from 5% in first quarter to 4.5% in second quarter is worrisome,” the senior Congress leader said.
“It is my belief that mere changes in economic policies will not help revive the economy. We need to change the current climate in our society from one of fear to one of confidence for our economy to start growing robustly again at 8% per annum,” he added.
Former PM Manmohan Singh: We need to change current climate in our society from one of fear to one of confidence for our economy to start growing at 8%/annum. State of economy is a reflection of state of its society. Our social fabric of trust & confidence is now torn & ruptured. pic.twitter.com/DtZDO7o7Mh
— ANI (@ANI) November 29, 2019
Singh, who helped open up India to the global economy in the 1990s, was speaking at the National Economy Conclave in New Delhi.
On Friday evening, official data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) showed that India’s quarterly GDP growth slipped to a nearly seven-year-low in the Q2 of this fiscal on the back of a poor manufacturing performance and lower output in the mining and construction sectors.
More alarmingly, the data showed that nominal GDP grew only by 6.1% in Q1, the lowest since 2009.
‘Fear of harassment’
In his speech, Singh also noted that while the current state of the Indian economy may be troubling, the state of the country’s society is “even more worrisome”, adding that there exists a “palpable climate of fear” in our society.
“Many industrialists tell me they live in fear of harassment by government authorities. Bankers are reluctant to make new loans, for fear of retribution. Entrepreneurs are hesitant to put up fresh projects, for fear of failure attributed to ulterior motives,” Singh said.
“Policymakers in government and other institutions are scared to speak the truth or engage in intellectually honest policy discussions. There is a profound fear and distrust among our various economic participants,” he said.
Singh also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help the economy by setting aside his “deep-rooted suspicion of our society”.
“I urge the prime minister to set aside his deep-rooted suspicion of our society and nurse us back to a harmonious, confident and mutually trustworthy society that can revive the animal spirits and help our economy soar,” Singh said in the conclusion of his speech.