Country in the midst of protracted slowdown: Manmohan Singh
New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday hit out at the Narendra Modi-led NDA government's 'complacency over the slowdown in the economy and said that there's an atmosphere of 'gloom and doom' all around.
Speaking at the meeting of all general secretaries, state in-charges, state unit chiefs, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders, Manmohan Singh said, "The country is today in the midst of dangerous protracted slowdown. And this is not only statement being made by the Congress leaders, but everywhere when you talk to people of industry and journalists the economy is going bad to worse."
The former Prime Minister said: "The dangerous thing about present situation is that the government is complacent enough not to realise that we are in the midst of protracted economic slowdown."
Singh also pointed that the rupee was getting weaker and weaker, "but exports have been sluggish under the NDA regime", and the result is the balance of payments situation getting worse and worse.
The former Prime Minister said that the first quarter of 2019-20, the national income growth rate declined to 5 per cent. "This reminds me of the situation of 2008 when our government was in power because of international financial crisis we faced a very challenging situation. And we faced that situation head on and we converted that crisis into an opportunity to revitalise our economy," he said referring to the steps taken by the UPA government in 2008 to revive the economy.
In the situation that our country is faced today whether you look at agriculture, real estate, manufacturing all along the line there is downturn in the economy, he highlighted. He underlined that if the situation was not reversed, the worst thing would happen on the employment situation.
"If income growth slows down month after month, quarter after quarter the scope for creating more jobs for young people is going to be seriously affected," he said.
Singh said that agriculture which is the corner stone of our economic activity in the country as 60 per cent of the family live on agriculture and the latest figures of the growth rate of agriculture is 2.7 per cent as against previous year of 4.35 per cent.
"The dangerous point is that the real wage rate in agriculture and rural sector has been reduced in last five years of the NDA government."
Singh also said that the demand is going down, "The manufacturing industries are affected of not having demand for want of investment, incentives and result is that there is an all round fear of gloom and doom," he said.
Sharing the figures of the real estate sector of eight metropolitan cities, Singh said, "In the first half of the 2019-20, in eight metropolitan cities about 4.5 lakh dwelling units are lying vacant and there are no demand for those.
"If the real estate is affected, employment will also be affected and that is what is happening in our economy," he said.
The former Prime Minister said that automobile industry is crying for help and the general feeling is that if the present trend of sales is not reversed then a million of people will lose their jobs.
"Therefore there is an atmosphere in the country is of gloom and doom," he said, adding that one could hope that the BJP government will come up with a package to stimulate demand, promote investment.
Singh asked the Congress leaders to go to people and inform them about the promises of the BJP during the Lok Sabha elections.
"The promises which the BJP made during the Lok Sabha elections are ignored and the economic reality is something different what is talked by the BJP government," he said.
Taking a pot shot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said, "The Prime Minister himself talks about achieving 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024. Now this looks like a dream.
"It is our responsibility and duty to convey this message to the country and how the BJP has misled the people and what is being done is only cosmetic to push up the atmosphere but situation in the country is that what was promised is not being delivered," he added.