Former Prime Minister of India and veteran Congress leader Manmohan Singh on Tuesday came down heavily on the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government’s demonetisation drive and the roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Ahead of the note ban completing a year on November 8, Singh, who was in Ahmedabad to meet youths, traders and small and medium businessmen, stated that while demonetisation was a “monumental blunder”, it was followed up by a “badly designed and hastily implemented GST”.
“Demonetisation has proved to be a mere disaster. Every one per cent loss of GDP costs our nation Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Think of the human impact of this loss where businesses had to shut down. The government did not heed to our advice on demonetisation. What is even more tragic is that after the monumental blunder of demonetisation, instead of providing relief to poor and farmers and small and medium businesses, the government inflicted a badly designed and hastily implemented GST. This is a complete disaster for our economy,” Singh said during his address on Tuesday.
Highlighting the impact of demonetisation on jobs, informal sector, farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) alike, Singh said that the move coupled with GST would push people back into poverty after the UPA-led government had brought 140 million people out of poverty.
Citing examples of Surat’s textile industry, Morbi’s ceramic industry and Rajkot’s auto components industry, Singh said that the domestic industry could not cope with the impact on the economy, resulting into China benefiting through increased imports.
“In Surat alone, 60000 looms have been discarded since July. 21000 jobs have been lost in just one industrial cluster in Surat. In the rest of the country, it is equally bad if not worse. The unprecedented growth in imports from China can be attributed to demonetisation and GST. These twin blows damaged India’s SME sector and our businesses had to run to Chinese imports at the cost of Indian jobs,” Singh said.
Taking a further dig at GST, Singh said that the current structure was a “great departure” from Congress’ vision and has “transformed into a mess”.
“Government did not pay any advice to Congress, neither in Parliament nor private consultations. GST has become a nightmare for small businessmen. Needless confusion has been caused by GST which has sowed deep-rooted fear of tax terrorism. At a time when the economy slowed down despite global conditions, tax terrorism has led to lowest growth in private investment in last 25 years,” he stated.
Singh also called the Modi government’s ambitious bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai an exercise of vanity while stating that it would neither benefit the 65 million Gujaratis nor the rest of the country.
“The Rs 88,000 crore soft loan may seem like easy money but it will still need to be repaid. Gujarati entrepreneurs know very well that if a deal is too good to be true then it is probably not good,” Singh said.
Singh also maintained that the Gujarat government was the worst performer in settling claims of title deeds for tribals at an average of 44 per cent in the state as against 87 per cent nationally.
“Congress ushered in right to fair compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement by undoing 123-year-old imbalance through Land Acquisition Act. However, Gujarat government has taken controversial decisions to ease norms to sell forests land to industries. After decades, the time has come for people of Gujarat to repose their faith in Congress which will work with 65 million Gujaratis to reach new heights,” Singh said in his address.