Central Govt incapable of bringing the country out of economic slowdown: Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday said that the BJP-led central government is “incapable” of bringing the country out of economic slowdown and it has since 2016, pushed millions of people below the poverty line.

“The UPA lifted 140 million people out of poverty between 2004 and 2014. The NDA has, since 2016, pushed millions of people below the poverty line,” Chidambaram told the media a day after he came out of Tihar Jail after being granted bail by the Supreme Court in the INX Media money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

“The economy can be brought out of the slowdown, but this government is incapable of doing that. I believe that Congress and some other parties are better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth, but we have to wait for better times,” he added.

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Talking about the economic situation, Chidambaram, “Government is calling the present slowdown ‘cyclical’. Thank god they have not called it ‘seasonal’. It is ‘structural’ and the government has no solutions or reforms that would address the structural problems.”

Chidambaram said that rural consumption is down according to NSSO.

“Rural wages are down. Producer prices are down, especially for farmers. Daily wage earners get work for no more than 15 days a month. Demand for MGNREGA is up. FMCG — both durable and non-durable — are selling less. Wholesale prices are up. CPI is going up. Onions sell at Rs 100 a kg. What do these point to? There is less demand among the people because they have less money and less appetite to consume due to uncertainty and fear,” Chidambaram said.

“Unless demand increases, there will not be increased production/output or increased investment. PLF of all thermal plants is 48 per cent. If one-half of installed electricity capacity is shut down, there can be no greater disaster,” he added.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the Delhi High Court’s order which had refused to grant bail to Chidambaram and directed him not to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses in the case.

The court has directed Chidambaram not to give press interviews and make public statements with regard to this case. The court also directed him to furnish a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh plus two sureties of the same amount.

Chidambaram had sought the bail in a case pertaining to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during his tenure as the Finance Minister.

The CBI had registered a corruption case in this regard in May 2017. Later that year, the ED also lodged a money laundering case against him. The Congress leader was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 21 this year in the INX Media corruption case but was granted bail by the Supreme Court two months later.

He was arrested by the ED in the money laundering case on October 16.


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