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Rajya Sabha opposition attacks Centre on economic slowdown

New Delhi

27-November-2019

Blaming demonetisation and "hasty" GST implementation for the dismal state of the economy, Opposition leaders came together in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday to attack the government on economic issues facing the country.

They blamed the "wrong" policies of the Narendra Modi government for the slump in economic growth and also raised questions about its privatisation overdrive.

Leading the short duration discussion on the economic situation in the country, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said factories were closing and millions of jobs being lost in slowdown-hit sectors like textile and automobiles.

The former Minister also said that investment had fallen to record low and people's trust in the banking system had been going down.

Sharma said that the government should have given money in the hands of the poor by raising the employment days in a year to 150 and increasing the daily wage under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to Rs 400 instead of extending a tax bonanza to corporates.

He attacked the government decision to sell public sector undertakings (PSUs) saying grand clearances are being given to sell the public assets built over the last 70 years.

His party colleague Jairam Ramesh also disapproved of the government move to sell PSUs, especially those making profits and 'Navratna' firms.

"This is not planned privatization, it is panic privatization," Ramesh said.

Trinamool Congress's (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien raised the issue of trust deficit, suggesting the government has scored low on trust with various stakeholders of the economy. He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to improve the state of the economy.

"Economy is in trouble. Youth want jobs, devote more time to economics. Please focus on job at hand. My request to Prime Minister, through you, is to take heed of this advice given to all of us by the former Chief Minister of Gujarat in November, 2013. Self-advice is always best advice," the TMC leader said, participating in the short duration discussion on the economic situation in the country.

NCP leader Majeed Memon pointed to the massive slowdown in the automobile and real estate sector.

"We are at a crossroad with regard to the current Indian government's ability to lead the nation towards a progressive economic future," he said.

Speaking of the government's privatisation overdrive, AAP leader Sanjay Singh said it was unfortunate that profit-making PSUs are being sold. He raised questions over the state of banks in the country and mentioned the failure of the PMC Bank in this regard.

DMK leader T.K.S. Elangovan said that the economy is not the priority of the government.

"Their priority is to change this country into another country, not economically," he said.

"Rosy pictures are given to public and real pictures are hidden," the DMK leader added referring to the employment data given by the government.

Elangovan also expressed reservations over the government move to change the terms of reference (ToR) of the Fifteenth Finance Commission. He asked why states should bear the cost of defence, when the subject is in the central list.IANS