oppn parties Time To Turn Attention Towards The Economy

News Snippets

  • Centre asks states to give shelter and food to migrant workers to stop them from taking to the streets
  • RBI cuts repo rate by 75 bps, the steepest in 10 years
  • Centre writes to states regarding laxity in monitoring people who had arrived from abroad between January and March
  • Kerala reports a spurt in new cases
  • With 124 fresh cases on Friday, the number of reported cases in India stand at 854
  • Five of a family, including a 9-month-old-baby test positive for Covid-19 in Nadia district in West Bengal on Friday
  • The Pakistani army is reportedly forcibly moving all Covid-19 patients to PoK and Gilgit
  • Untimely azaans in J&K mosques spark panic gathering
  • Stocks rise - Sensex up by 1400 points and Nifty goes above the 8600 mark
  • Rahul Gandhi says the economic package is "the first step in the right direction"
  • The government announces wide-ranging measures to help the poor overcome the economic hardship caused by Covid-19
  • G20 leaders to hold a virtual meeting today to explore ways of fighting Covid-19 in a coordinated manner
  • The Delhi government orders testing of all medical staff after the positive test on a Delhi mohalla clinic doctor
  • As a fallout of a Delhi mohalla clinic doctor testing positive for Covid-19, 900 people in the chain quarantined
  • China offers help to India in the fight against Covid-19 and says India will win the battle at an early date
Government announces Rs 1.72 lakh crore relief package /////// Sonia Gandhi and P Chidambaram laud the government for the lockdown and offer their full support
oppn parties
Time To Turn Attention Towards The Economy

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

There is growing feeling in the country that  Prime Minister Narendra Modi should now sit with ministers who have portfolios related to the economy - Nirmala Sitharaman (Finance), Nitin Gadkari (Roads & Highways and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) and Piyush Goyal (Commerce and Industry) - instead of giving all his time to Amit Shah (Home) and Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law & Justice). This feeling is the result of a continued downward spiral in the economy. The effects of the downturn are now becoming visible on the ground in various ways and are causing concern to the common man. Before now, the subject was being discussed in boardrooms and drawing rooms of the rich. But now, it is increasingly being heard across the country in bazaars, dhabas and chai shops too. If the government does not take major steps like urgent reforms in some sectors, investor confidence is going to be shattered and India will lose a good opportunity to get big global players to relocate their manufacturing facilities in the country from China which is bearing the brunt of rising wages and a trade war with the US that is bleeding its economy.

For three successive quarters now, the GDP growth rate has been revised downwards from initial estimates despite window dressing of data by the government. Net capital formation has gone down alarmingly. Tax collection is way off the mark. There are no jobs and for the existing ones, at least at the lower and middle levels, there is no increase in salaries. Automobile industry, the bellwether of economic activity, is passing through hard times with negative growth in sales. Dealerships are closing down and factories are not hiring casual labour. Farm distress is deepening especially as the monsoon is erratic. Food inflation, controlled till now, is likely to surge as vegetables and fruits are becoming way too costly. The government simply does not have the money even if it wants to invest in infrastructure projects (a sure-fire way of giving a push to the economy). Rate cuts by the RBI have ceased to work as private investors are postponing projects due to lack of demand for products and services. The financial services sector has not come out of the shock of the mess created by the NBFCs and experts warn of a financial contagion. Exports have also not picked up.

All this, coupled with the effects of the global economic downtrend on India, needs the immediate attention of the government. The situation is such that the government will have to find the money (other than using the surplus with the RBI, for that will be sorely needed if the global economic crisis worsens like in 2008) and make immediate investments in infrastructure projects. The budget had talked of investment of Rs 1.25 lakh crore but had appointed a committee to suggest the ways to raise the funds. That committee should be converted into a fast-track unit and asked to submit its report in 30 days, 15 if possible. The government must also take a decision of the overseas sovereign bonds issue. It has also got to think about how to make private and foreign investors start investing in projects. There is no time to lose. Each passing day without major decisions on the economy is like putting one more nail in its coffin.