Govt seeking Rs 3.6 lakh crore RBI reserve to dole out freebies ahead of 2019 polls: Cong
New Delhi: The Congress Tuesday said if the government's reported proposal seeking Rs 3.6 lakh crore from the RBI fructifies, it will tantamount to "the great Indian robbery", and alleged the amount was being sought to dole out "freebies" ahead of the 2019 parliamentary election.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, at a press conference, said such a move would have "profound" implications on the macro-economic stability of India.
Alleging that the NDA government was "demolishing" the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Tewari asserted that the Congress would resist all attempts to undermine the economic sovereignty of India and this "adventurism" would not be allowed.
"The facts which are emerging in the public space, the government wants the RBI to part with Rs 3.6 lakh crore out of Rs 9.59 lakh crore which constitutes the cash reserve of the RBI...," he alleged.
The RBI has been resisting this very strongly, Tewari said, adding the demand by the government was "unprecedented".
"If this were to fructify, this would tantamount to the great Indian robbery," the former Union minister said.
"This is going to have profound implications on the macro-economic stability of India...this is one of the fundamentals of the Indian economy that the RBI has enough liquidity available in order to meet any contingency. And today the NDA/BJP government wants to demolish that confidence (of investors) and demolish the Reserve Bank of India in the process," he said.
There was no immediate reaction on the charge made by the opposition party.
Talking about the government's intentions, Tewari alleged the reasons for such a move can be found in the economic data put out by the Ministry of Finance showing fiscal deficit and the current account deficit were mounting on a daily basis.
"So, in order to bridge that fiscal deficit, the government has started eyeing the money which is lying with the RBI. And what is even more disturbing is that they perhaps want to use the money in order to give out freebies before the 2019 elections," he said.
Tewari said the government must learn from Argentina where the transfer of USD 6.6 billion from the central bank to the treasury sparked off the worst constitutional crisis. Argentina is before the IMF for a USD 50-billion bailout, he said.
Talking about the reported proposal by the finance ministry seeking to transfer a surplus of Rs 3.6 lakh crore to the government, Tewari said it was an extremely "serious, sensitive and delicate" issue which will have very serious implications for the economic sovereignty of India.
"For quite a while, reports have been circulating in the public space that the government was planning to invoke section 7 of the RBI Act in order to issue directions to the Reserve Bank of India," he said.