Mukherjee defends tenure as finance minister from 2009-12

Mukherjee defends tenure as finance minister from 2009-12

President Pranab Mukherjee, who exuded confidence on Saturday that the Indian economy would soon bounce back, pointed out that slow growth during his tenure as the Union finance minister was more due to global setbacks and not his policies.

Before ascending to India’s highest office, Mukherjee was in charge of the finance ministry from 2009 to 2012, when the country underwent one of its worst growth periods.

He has recently been under fire from incumbent finance minster P Chidambaram, who blamed him for poor growth. Chidambaram recently told the Rajya Sabha that the dire state of the economy is not just because of global environment but also due to domestic problems, mostly originating during Mukherjee’s tenure.

The president, who was addressing the 160th annual general meeting of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries here, spoke up for himself. While Rashtrapati Bhavan had earlier issued a communiqué to this note after Chidambaram first raised questions about Mukherjee’s tenure, this is the first time the president came out in his own defence in public.

Voicing concern over the slow economic growth, he said that during 2008-09 the rate came down from above 9 per cent to 6.7 per cent. “Thereafter the economy grew at a rate of 8.7 per cent and 9.3 per cent during 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively,” he pointed out.

The slump was because world economy was recovering from the downturn of 2008-09, he explained. “Our economy is going through a difficult phase due to slowing down of world economy and persistent crisis in Euro zone. But there is no room for gloom and despondency,” he said.

In further validation of his tenure, Mukherjee said: “Our growth scenario has had a chequered history since 1951 to 1979 when the growth rate was 3.5 per cent, which gradually increased to 7.9 per cent during last decade despite three extremely bad years since 2008-09.”