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Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he didn’t see the economy reaching the 5 trillion dollar target by 2024, with gradual decline in growth. He also said the economy is in a “vicious slowdown” which could be salvaged only if the growth rate shot up.

“Economy is in a vicious slowdown now. With the way it is going, right now what is feasible is 5.5 to 6 per cent in the short term. But our economy needs a growth rate of 8 to 10 per cent for employment generation,” the former Prime Minister said, while addressing a Press Conference in Mumbai, ahead of elections in Maharashtra.

He also referred to the International Monetary Fund report on India, which has predicted 6.1 % growth rate during the current fiscal year, as against 7.3% mentioned some months ago. “With growth rate declining year after year, I don’t think there’s any hope of economy reaching the target of $5 Trillion by 2024,” Dr Singh said.

Dr Singh also said Mumbai and Maharashtra had suffered some of the worst effects of the grave economic slowdown. Maharashtra today was a leader in farmer suicides, according to him, and every third person was jobless.

“Maharashtra used to attract talent from across the nation, sadly that is not the case anymore. The economic scenario of a demographic dividend is suffering. Factories and industry is fast moving out of Maharashtra. The farm sector is under stress too, farmers are suffering,” he said.

He said, unfortunately, the BJP governments at the Centre as well as in Maharashtra are unwilling to implement people-friendly measures. He said he had no doubt that the problems of Maharashtra would be managed in a better way under a Congress government.

Earlier on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had accused the Manmohan Singh-Raghuram Rajan combination for the present economic crisis in the country. Pointing at bad loans in state-run banks when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power, Sitharaman held the former PM and ex RBI Governor responsible for subjecting public sector banks to their “worst phase”.

“I have no reason to doubt that Raghuram Rajan feels for every word of what he is saying. And I’m here today, giving him his due respect, but also placing the fact before you that Indian public sector banks did not have a worst phase than when the combination of Singh and Rajan, as Prime Minister and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, had. At that time, none of us knew about it,” the Finance Minister said in her address  at the Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

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