Till when will people pay the price for govt's 'incompetence': Cong on Sitharaman's dollar remark

Nirmala Sitharaman. Photo: AP

New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday hit out at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her remarks that the rupee has not weakened but the American dollar has strengthened, and asked till when will people pay the price for the government's "incompetence and wrong policies".

Reacting to Sitharaman's remarks, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the rupee is now at the cusp of crossing 83 against 1 USD and it seems Prime Minister Narendra Modi "will only stop after making it cross 100".

"To strengthen the rupee, USD 100 billion have been spent in the last 10-11 months but it has continued to slide because foreign investors do not have confidence in the Indian economy and the Modi government's policies," she said.

Shrinate pointed out that 86 per cent of India's trade is in American dollars so when the rupee weakens it affects India's economy, trade and import.

"But the finance minister is not bothered, she has come up with a new theory – the rupee is not weakening as the dollar is strengthening," she said.

"Weakening rupee increases prices and the finance minister should desist from giving such statements. But she does not eat onions and garlic, rupee is not weakening and unemployment is not there, there is no price rise, all this is being said while the people grapple with these issues," Shrinate said slamming Sitharaman.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh also hit out at the finance minister and asserted that the weakening of the rupee will further push up prices.

"Till when will we have to pay the price for your (the government's) wrong policies and incompetence," he said.

Speaking with reporters after attending the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in the US, Sitharaman said that the rupee has not weakened but it is the dollar that has strengthened, as she defended the 8 per cent slide in the value of Indian currency against the greenback this year.

She asserted that the fundamentals of the Indian economy were strong and that inflation was low compared to other parts of the world.

"First of all I would look at it as not rupee sliding, I would look at it as dollar strengthening, dollar strengthening incessantly," she said in reply to a question on weakening rupee.

All other currencies around the world are performing against a strengthening dollar, she said.

"And I'm not talking technicalities, but it is a matter of fact that India's rupee probably has withstood this dollar rate going up, the exchange rate in favour of dollar strengthening is there and I think Indian rupee has performed much better than many other emerging market currencies."

The rupee settled at 82.35 against the US dollar on Friday, having touched another record low of 82.68 on Monday after which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to have intervened. Some analysts say the central bank may have spent nearly USD 100 billion in the past year to defend the rupee.


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