Prime Minister, no ‘take-off ’ without ‘off-take’: Jairam Ramesh 

Using Government’s own statistics on Saturday, former union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh reminded PM Narendra Modi that the country could not take off with credit, energy and investment

PTI image
PTI image

NH Political Bureau

“The Prime Minister is fond of saying his Government’s policies are directed at ‘less cash’ than ‘cash less’; I am tempted to use the Prime Minister’s expression to remind him that there could be no ‘ take-off’ without ‘ off-take’,” said former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh.

• The Congress MP drew attention to figures disclosed by the Reserve Bank of India for 2016-17 when bank credit grew at the rate of 5%. This growth rate, the MP pointed out, is the lowest growth in the last 60 years.

• Drawing attention to the website of the Energy Ministry, he pointed out that the Plant Load Factor in 2016-17 at 60% is the lowest in the last 15 years.

What these two figures indicate is low investment in the economy and low energy consumption. There is capacity. Banks are flush with funds and the electricity generating capacity has grown enormously in the last 10 years. But the power plants are working at only 60% PLF , which is an irony because this country clearly needs more energy.

Ramesh drew attention to the Labour Ministry’s admission that during the first two years of the Modi Government, only 4.4 lakh employment opportunities were generated as opposed to 21 lakh jobs in the first two years of UPA 2.

Taking a dig at the Prime Minister’s repeated claim that the economy is getting stronger and the economy has reached the ‘ take off stage’, the MP said that the Government’s own statistics called the PM’s bluff.

Neither the Prime Minister nor the Finance Minister are ready to address the elephant in the room, which is lack of investment in the country, he added. He had raised the issue in Parliament and outside but failed to elicit any response from Mr Modi or Mr Jaitley.

The Prime Minister has been waxing eloquent on ‘ Digi-Dhan’ but where is the ‘Dhan’, Ramesh asked rhetorically while questioning the Government’s claim that the economy is growing at 7% per annum.

Even the Niti Ayog , he says, is of the opinion that it would take one and a half years for the positive effects of GST to kick in. The situation, therefore, is grim and the Government should not take this lightly. But the Prime Minister, he suggested, seems to live in a world of his own and continues making tall claims and lofty promises.

Asked why the Modi Government is still popular and why the BJP continues to win elections, Ramesh said that it would take time for people to realise that they have been taken for a ride. In Rajasthan, he claimed, 30% of those entitled for wheat rations weren’t getting wheat. But it takes time for the public to realise that there is less food, less employment, less energy and less credit’.

He also pointed out that people were no longer speaking as freely as they did four years ago. “ There is an atmosphere of enormous fear prevailing in the country”, he said, which could explain why there is no popular unrest yet.

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