FM delivering nothing but headlines: Cong on stimulus package

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Delhi, Jun 28 (PTI) The Congress on Monday claimed the measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman deliver nothing but headlines and said the government should take steps to spur demand to revive the economy “which continues to be in the doldrums”.

The opposition party was reacting after the government announced a series of measures to stimulate the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Credit guarantee schemes have not guaranteed revival since India”s economic downturn. FM Nirmala Sitharaman needs to realise that doing the same thing over and over again delivers headlines but little else,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter.

“First PM instructs. Then FM announces. Then PM applauds. Waah! Such ”jugalbandi” to keep the headlines going, while the economy remains in doldrums,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the finance minister has done nothing to revive the economy and spur demand, and has instead given a dose of fresh loans.

He said the government should have given direct cash benefits to put money in people”s pockets that could propel demand in the economy instead of encouraging them to take loans.

Vallabh said the finance minister has not addressed the issue of low demand and declining GDP, and high inflation and unemployment.

“What is the answer for the consistent decline in GDP? How you are going to revive that?” he asked.

He said the unemployment rate is 12 percent against 2 percent in 2012 and asked, “How we are going to bring it down?”

“How we are going to create new employment? What is the answer in this regard? The answer is: ”No, there is no concrete plan”,” he said.

Sitharaman on Monday announced Rs 1.5 lakh crore of additional credit for small and medium businesses, more funds for the healthcare sector, loans to tourism agencies and guides, and waiver of visa fee for foreign tourists as part of a package to support the pandemic-hit economy.

Together with previously announced Rs 93,869 crore spending on providing free foodgrains to the poor till November and additional Rs 14,775 crore fertiliser subsidy, the stimulus package — mostly made up of government guarantee to banks and microfinance institutions for loans they extend to Covid-hit sectors — totalled up to Rs 6.29 lakh crore.

Vallabh said there is a consistent decline in demand in the economy.”What have you done to revive the demand in the economy. People are losing jobs, there are salary cuts, and the government is not transferring the dearness allowance to its employees, the people are in crisis,” he said

The Congress leader said even in last year”s package also, as per IMF and various other agencies, “the truth of Rs 20 lakh crore is that the fiscal stimulus is only Rs 2 lakh crore”.

“What is the additional money Government of India is going to transfer in the hands of the people who are losing the jobs, who are having massive salary cuts, who are not getting their salary for the last 4-5 months, what are you doing for that.

“Without taking care of that, without taking care of the ever-falling demand, without taking care of reviving the new demand in the economy, you can”t come out of this vicious circle and what is this vicious circle, low GDP, low demand, high unemployment, high inflation,” he said, alleging that the government is more concerned about headlines.

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