Opp LS members express concern over health of economy

 Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (PTI Photo)

Lok Sabha members from various opposition parties on Monday expressed concern over the health of the economy and asked the government to take effective steps rather than "clutching at straws" to deal with the problem.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked the BJP leadership to seek advice from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on ways to deal with the current economic slowdown.

He said Singh's warning that demonetization would bring down the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2 percent has come true.

Participating in the discussion on the Taxation Law Amendment Bill and a statutory resolution disapproving the ordinance on the same legislation, Chowdhury said it was regrettable that the Modi government was viewing everyone with suspicion and not taking anyone's advice to deal with the country's economic woes.

Observing that tax rate cut would result in a revenue loss of Rs 1.45 lakh crore, he wanted to know how the government will deal with the fiscal deficit.

The debate in the Lower House mostly hovered around the GDP slipping to an over-six-year-low of 4.5 percent in the July-September quarter.

Attacking the Congress, Nishikant Dubey (BJP) said it is not right to believe that the GDP is the only parameter to assess the health of the economy and focus should be on sustainable economic development.

He also listed measures like the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan and Ayushmaan Bharat to improve the lives of people.

"Sustainable economic development (is) more important than the GDP," he said, inviting criticism from opposition members.

Dubey said the Modi government should be credited for not signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement last month.

Mahua Moitra (TMC) said the economy has faced a crippling blow due to demonetization and faulty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

She also said the government was giving relief to Foreign Institutional Investors but the same was not being extended to Indian corporates.

The TMC MP also said the corporate tax cut proposed through the bill only helps the profitable to become more profitable.

"It does not do anything to revive a very large part of this economy which is struggling. Instead, it is clutching at straws," she said.

Moitra also questioned the government's move to disinvest a profitable company like Bharat Petroleum Company Ltd (BPCL). This, she said, reflected the government's desperate measures.

Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) also questioned the government's move to sell BPCL. He said though the government is taking decisions, it is not looking at the impact.

He also said demonetization has badly hurt the economy. The economic slowdown started with the demonetization and has hit every sector that gives signs of doomed financial prospects, he said.

A Raja (DMK) said the economy was going through a turbulent phase and the government was not willing to accept it.

"It has to be accepted that the economy has been affected," he said.

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