In a sharp reaction to former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha’s accusation, in a recent newspaper interview, that he was “trying to fool the country” with a “fiscal fraud,” Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said the BJP leader’s performance in the same office “was such that he had to demit office on July 1, 2002.”
“I may point out that 2000-01 and 2002-03 were the worst years since liberalisation in terms of growth and Prime Minister Vajpayee was forced to replace the Finance Minister,” Mr. Chidambaram said on Thursday. “I thought Mr. Sinha would be happy to remain a distant memory for the people of India. However, he seems determined to remain relevant in his party.”
Mr. Sinha had accused Mr. Chidambaram of reducing fiscal deficit by “savagely” cutting planned expenditure, milking PSUs of dividends, and postponing subsidy expenditure incurred this year to the next fiscal.
Mr. Chidambaram cited official figures to show that the Gross Domestic Product growth rate in the two years were 4.3 per cent and 4.0 per cent. Despite the economic slowdown, the growth rate during the UPA’s tenure did not fall below 4.5 per cent. “The allegation that government has postponed the payment of subsidies is either born out of ignorance or is mischievous.” Rollovers had been the practice for many years and nothing unusual happened in 2013-14, he added.
On Mr. Sinha’s accusation that the UPA government had not done its homework on implementing the Goods & Services Tax (GST) and the Direct Tax Code (DTC), the Minister said that when consensus had nearly been reached, the State “governments of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat stalled further progress … Issues that had been settled were reopened.”