Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said that the financial year 2020-21 has been the darkest year of the economy in four decades and that the government must print money if necessary.
Addressing a press conference on GDP, Chidambaram said, the GDP in 2020-21 is lower than the GDP in 2018-19. 2020-21 has been the darkest year of the economy in four decades. The performance in the four quarters of 2020-21 tells the story.
The National Statistical Office (NSO) on Monday released the GDP numbers that showed the economy had contracted by 7.3 percent over FY20/21- its worst performance in more than 40 years.
Commenting on the figures, Chidambaram said, the first two quarters witnessed a recession (-24.4 and -7.4 per cent)… performance in the third and fourth quarters did not herald a recovery. The positive Q3 and Q4 rates – 0.5 and 1.6 percent – should be seen in the context of a very low base of 3.3 and 3.0 per cent in the corresponding quarters of the previous year.
He urged the Union government to borrow money or print banknotes and to spend it aggressively without worrying about the fiscal deficit. He said, This is not the time to worry about the fiscal deficit. So what if the deficit widens to 6.5%? We can’t lose another year like we lost the last year.
But the way the government is reacting, we are going to lose another year. My advice to the government is to act boldly and spend. Borrow or print money and spend, he added
Slamming the Modi-led government, he said, the current state of the economy is no doubt largely due to the impact of the pandemic, but it has been compounded by the ineptitude and incompetent economic management of the BJP-led NDA government.
Chidambaram claimed that the ruling government misled the people. When the first wave of the pandemic appeared to subside last year, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her chief economic adviser began to sell the story of a recovery. They saw “green shoots” when no one else did. They predicted a V-shaped recovery. It was a false story, he said.
Further criticising Sitharaman, the Congress MP said, Unless you take steps now, how will you tackle the third or fourth wave? The finance minister said budget proposals will kick in. The budget was placed on February 1. Today is June 1. How long it will take for the budget proposals to kick in?
What is most worrying is that the per capita GDP has fallen below ₹1 lakh, to ₹99,694. In percentage terms, it is a decline of (-) 8.2 per cent over the previous year. It is lower than the level achieved in 2018-19 (and maybe even 2017-18). The deeply worrying conclusion is that most Indians are poorer than they were two years ago, the former finance minister said.
As the overall economic situation has pushed millions of people below the poverty line, the financial crisis of the states arising out of non-payment of their share of GST revenues will impact the vaccination programme, he apprehended.