Updated, Feb. 07. 2024. 9.46 PM.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that since 2014, the government followed the path to take the economy forward by removing all the misgovernance and hurdles of the previous government. She said, at the same time, the government also focused on economic reforms. Replying to a discussion on White Paper on the Indian Economy and its impact on lives of the people of India, Ms Sitharaman said that the White Paper is a serious document with documentary evidence for everything what is stated in it. She added that it has been prepared with an intention of informing Parliament of the ten years’ literal dedicated effort of the government to work in such a way to bring the economy on track.
Hitting out at Congress led UPA rule, the Finance Minister said that the National security was compromised and environment clearances were delayed. She said that critical shortage of defence ammunition was the main feature of 2014 when the Modi government inherited the economy. Ms Sitharaman said that Modi government has allocated six lakh 22 thousand crore rupees for defence budget from two lakh 53 thousand crore rupees in 2013-14.
On the issue of unemployment, the Finance Minister said that the labour market has witnessed a falling unemployment rate from 5.8 per cent in 2018-19 to 3.2 per cent in 2022-23. She said, in the last nine years the government has filled up over 8 lakh 82 thousand central government vacancies.
After the Finance Minister’s reply, the house rejected the substitute motion against the White Paper moved by N K Premachandran of RSP and TMC leader Saugata Roy of TMC.
Earlier, in her opening remarks, Ms Sitharaman said, the White Paper has been laid by the government, after ten years of pulling out the Indian Economy, which was in fragile five, to reach the stage of top five economies. She said, the paper is laid with responsibility so that the records have factual information on the economy. The Minister said, it will be a record for posterity for entire India’s youth so that they know what efforts it took for the Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a vision to restore India to its glory. She said, UPA left the economy in a critical state and under the leadership of the Prime Minister the situation improved and now the country is well-respected across the globe. She alleged that coal scam and other scams during the UPA regime had put the country’s economy in serious trouble. Ms Sitharaman said, coal scam had resulted in loss of 1.86 lakh crore rupees to the exchequer. She said, on the other hand, the Modi Government has ensured transparent auction of coal blocks. Talking about NPAs, the Finance Minister accused the UPA Government of doing favour to certain entities and individuals bypassing the norms, which resulted in increase of NPAs.
Congress MP Manish Tewari hit out at the Government terming the white paper as a political manifesto. He asked why the NDA government did not bring out a White Paper in 2014 and waited for 10 years. He listed out achievements of the UPA government including bringing out MGNREGA and AADHAR. Mr Tewari criticized the Government for demonetisation of high value currencies and GST, saying it adversely impacted MSMEs. He questioned the Government on unemployment rate saying in 2023-24 unemployment rate has reached around nine per cent unlike 2013-14 it was 4.9 per cent. Mr Tewari also claimed that during UPA rule 27 crore people were pulled out from poverty while in the current government the number is 25 crore. The Congress leader also attacked the Government over inflation.
DMK MP Veeraswamy Kalanidhi questioned that the adverse effect of demonetisation has not been highlighted in the white paper. He also questioned why the prices of petrol and diesel were not reduced when oil prices fell during lockdown. He alleged that the Central government has failed to fulfill its promises.
TMC MP Sougata Roy claimed that the BJP government has no economist in its cabinet hence it botched up reforms like GST and bankruptcy code. He said, the white paper has failed to highlight the rising unemployment, farmer suicides and low participation of women in workforce. Alleging that India is the poorest among BRICS nations, he said, the government has no answer for the wealth disparity between the poor and rich.
Gaurav Gogoi of Congress accused BJP of shielding the corrupt. He listed names of leaders who have joined BJP and all cases against them were put on hold. He also accused BJP of using ED as a weapon to shut Opposition voices.
On the other hand, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey took on opposition alleging all parties have gathered together for corruption. He said, after coming to power in May 2014, the Narendra Modi Government, in its first cabinet meeting, approved the appointment of the Special Investigation Team on Black Money. Mr Dubey said, the Congress-led UPA government burdened the nation by issuing oil bonds worth one lakh ten thousand crore rupees and the present government is repaying the burden. Quoting Economic Survey of 2004-05, he said, the UPA Government had thanked the Vajpayee Government for leaving a strong economy.
JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh (Lalan) said, there was an attempt to create confusion that the economy is in bad shape and this white paper was much needed to clear the air. He said, during UPA rule there was financial mismanagement and scams. Mr Singh alleged that it was the UPA government which provided loan of over eight thousand crore rupees to fugitive Vijay Mallya.