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The Congress manifesto is silent on the middle class: Jaitley

Shishir SinhaRicha Mishra | | Updated on: Apr 03, 2019
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You have been demystifying the Congress manifesto. Do you see the economic proposals having any real time implications at the macro level ?

If you look at the whole history of the Congress rule, I think it was always guided by either obsolete ideas or populism. The Congress was always behind the curve, when it came to visionary thinking. See this whole suggestion on Tuesday about wealth and welfare, compare it with what I have been saying for five years — market economy with social consciousness.

You have to increase resources, use it for further economic development, infrastructure, etc. Use a large part of the resource to bring down poverty. That is the model we followed in the last five years.

Now Manmohan Singh says that ‘ 2030 main garibi kum karegey ( in 2030 we will bring down poverty) which means it took them 69 years to implement Indira Gandhi’s idea from 1971. This is the confession of non-performance. Other countries in the world have done it much faster by adopting the right policies. Therefore, if you see the economic agenda, I don't think they knew the basics also.

But, how do you see some of their suggestions. Spend on education and health...

I can understand if they say State and Central Governments, municipalities, panchayats, private sector, all together will try to spend 6 per cent on education and 3 per cent on healthcare . Rahul Gandhi ko toh size of GDP aur size of Budget ke beech ka difference nahi pata (Rahul Gandhi doesn’t know the difference between the size of the GDP and size of the Budget).

He said 6 per cent of the GDP to be spent on education and 3 per cent on health. Iska matlab yeh hua ki ₹27 lakh crore ke Budget main ₹18.9 lakh crore kewal in dono per kaharch kar denge ( In the ₹27-lakh crore Budget, ₹18.9-lakh crore will be spent on these two alone). And if you see the liberalism in this manifesto, it is only when it comes to subversion — AFSA, dilute Army presence, bail is the rule for sedition.

Is NYAY a concern for the BJP?

Abhi tak sach nahi bol rahe (They are still not telling the truth). If you put all the States and the Central subsidies under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) it is targeted distribution and it will only be merit. In their scheme, the monthly cheque will be in most cases more than ₹12,000. Now they say it will be over and above other subsidies.

So the issue is how will you do it? Economist Avijit Banerjee spoke the truth (P Chaidmbaram says they consulted him) they will raise taxes. For the last five years, we have reduced taxes, we didn't raise a single tax.

The only chapter which is missing in this manifesto, is on strengthening the middle class, that is today a dominant section of your voter.

So you are saying NYAY will be funded by raising taxes ...

I am not saying this, the truth was leaked out by Avijit’s statement. Secondly, the devil lies in detail. What is the qualification, who will get it? Take Telangana I give example of Telangana as it is the highest subsidy State — Kisiko 15,000 har mahine mil jata hai (assuming food is also put on) , toh yeh jo ₹6,000 dengey will that ₹15,000 be taken into consideration to determine eligibility or not? (Someone gets ₹15,000 per month, and added to this is ₹6,000. So will the ₹15,000 be considered for eligibility determination or not), (If yes) then there is no NYAY in Telangana. Then everybody gets it and if it is over and above, the one working will get ₹21,000 and your minimum wage will be from ₹9,500 to ₹15,500 . So, you are actually disinentivising workers.

So there are two drafting catches — it will no longer be a Central scheme, Rahul Gandhi’s gift, it will be a Centre-State scheme The manifesto also said that it (NYAY) will be fiscally neutral and it will only allow merit subsidies to continue. Now lets see the demerits — there are a total 950 subsidies, of which you will call 20-30 merit and the remaining demerit.

How do you read freedom from indebtedness ?

Freedom from indebtedness is only possible if the economy is moving faster and resources are being transferred to the poor. In 2011, the BPL was 21.9 per cent, I'm assuming it should be around 17 per cent today. These are hard realities that we must keep in mind. In a fast moving economy, we should deplete this faster by transferring more resources. DBT is the best mechanism. You can even enlarge the scope of DBT by increasing some of those amounts.

Questions are being raised on the GDP numbers. The Congress says if the GDP growth is what you are projecting, then why worry how they will implement NYAY?

Let's be very clear. P Chidambaram’s explanation for implementing NYAY is like the man who went to buy a hen. Who ek anda degi, aur phir ek hazaar ande ho jayenge, phir main poultry farm ka owner ho januga, phir millionaire bunn jaayega phir saab khuch kar lunga. (Will lay one egg, then will lay 1,000 eggs, and then the poultry farmer will become a millionaire and this will help me achieve my goal).

He says the GDP will expand. But, how will you do it in year one? How will you do it in year two? Even at 7.5 per cent expansion each year, it will take time for the GDP to grow much faster.

The GDP numbers are maintained by the CSO . India’s Opposition and the Left has been in shambles all these years. I have analysed this list of 108 economists who had questioned the data. Seventy are those who have signed multiple political memorandums against the government. IMF accepts our data. The country accepts it. And my last submission is such expanded economic activity is creating jobs. We have the details sector-wise. The main issue here is if there were no jobs there will be a lot of social sector tension. Do you see it?

Published on April 03, 2019

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