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Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan | It’s a ₹3.22-lakh-crore package, says Congress

Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma. File

Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma. File  

What Finance Minister has given does not total up even to 2% of GDP, says Anand Sharma

The actual quantum of the Aatmanirbhar stimulus package announced by the government is not ₹20 lakh crore or 10% of the country’s GDP as claimed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but merely ₹3.22 lakh crore, which is 1.6% of the GDP, the Congress said on Sunday, hours after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the final tranche.

Also read: Economic stimulus package | Details of ₹20-lakh-crore package announced by Nirmala Sitharaman in five tranches

Addressing an online press conference, Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma said while the Congress welcomed the additional allocation of ₹40,000 crore for the Mahatama Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, all the announcements put together add up to a fraction of what the government had promised.

“It all adds up to ₹3.22 lakh crore, beginning from the first announcement of ₹1.76 lakh crore, which is 1.6% of the GDP. This is not a time for political one-upmanship, but, I would like to debate this with the Finance Minister, let her contradict what I am saying that what you have given does not total up even to 2% of the GDP,” Mr. Sharma said.

Loan route

The Congress has been criticising the government of taking the loan route instead of extending immediate help with cash transfers.

Also read: Congress should work with Centre to send more migrants home, says Nirmala Sitharaman

“We want to convey that there is a huge difference between what is wage support, income support, financial support and stimulus to the economy as compared to the borrowing, credit and additional loan,” he added.

“We want to convey that there is a huge difference between, what is wage support, income support, financial support and stimulus to the economy as compared to the borrowing, credit and additional loan,” he added. Because of the extended lockdown, which was extended for the fourth time on Sunday, the country had lost more than 7% of our GDP, which amounted to ₹18 lakh crore, he said.

Sensitive sectors

The party also criticised the government move in the time of COVID-19 pandemic to open up sensitive sectors, including nuclear, to private sector entities. “We would like to remind the Government of India, with a main parliamentary democracy, during the lockdown period, the government does not have any authorisation to take an arbitrary decision,” Mr. Sharma said. Parliaments of nearly 23 countries had met virtually, Mr. Sharma pointed out but “we continue to dither even to hold meetings of standing committees of Parliament. What is happening in India? We are the largest democracy. We are taking the ordinance route arbitrarily.”

Also read: Coronavirus package | Talk of space travel a cruel joke amid migrant workers’ crisis, says Congress

“Corona pandemic and the National Disaster Management Act have not empowered the government to embark upon a grand clearance sale, as I said yesterday [on Saturday] of India’s national assets. These issues will have to be discussed, revisited and corrected,” he added.

‘Constitutional obligation’

The Congress also criticised Ms. Sitharaman’s claim of adequate support to State governments. “Modi govt. acting as a ‘mai-baap’ sarkar to state govts. Tax devolution and statutory grants to state governments is now passed of as “generous support”. It’s your primary Constitutional obligation, Finance Minister, and comes before Centre’s own expenditure,” Congress Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh tweeted. Taunting the Modi government, Mr. Ramesh added that five days of press conferences have proven that India has become a member of “NATO: No Action Talk Only.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 3:09:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/aatmanirbhar-bharat-abhiyan-its-a-322-lakh-crore-package-says-congress/article31609557.ece

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