Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday launched a blistering attack on Congress, saying that banks were pressured under its rule to give loans worth thousands of crore to select industrialists and termed it as the UPA government’s biggest scam.
A day before his home state Gujarat goes to the final phase of polling, Modi attacked “economists” in the UPA for handing him a “liability” of non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans, while hard-selling his central government’s pro-poor schemes.
“This government is framing policies keeping the needs of the youth in mind. In contrast, the previous government gave thousands of crores to select big industrialist by putting pressure on banks,” he said.
He went on to blame the UPA regime for the problems in the banking sector. “This noise over NPAs of banks is the biggest liability handed down by the economists sitting in the previous government,” he said without naming anyone.
In the address, his first at an AGM of an industry association, Prime Minister asked as to what Ficci was doing when some in government pressured banks in giving loans to select industrialists.
Also, he said, no study was done by organisations like Ficci to assess how the plight of banking sector worsened due to policies of the earlier government.
“Those in the government, banks, industry and markets knew that a wrong was being committed,” he said. “This was UPA government’s biggest scam, bigger than Commonwealth Games, 2G (telecom spectrum allocation) and coal block allocation scams.
This was kind of loot of public money by those sitting in the government by using industrialists.”
He sought to know whether an attempt was ever made to wake up those who “silently” watched the entire loot.
Modi said his government has taken steps to strengthen the banking sector including by providing fresh capital so that the interest of customers and the country is protected.
He also questioned as to why the UPA government did not think of bringing a legislation like the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) to protect the interests of home buyers and to enhance transparency in the real estate sector.
Listing out his government’s pro-poor policies, Modi said free cooking gas connections have been given to over 3 crore women; 30 crore bank accounts have been opened as part of financial inclusion; over Rs 4 lakh crore guarantee-less loans have been given to about 9.75 lakh youth for business; 5 crore toilets built and affordable housing for rural poor launched.
In the last three years, 87 reforms in 21 sectors like defence, construction, financial services and food processing have been undertaken to overhaul the economy, he said.
“We are building a system that is not just transparent but also sensitive and understands people’s needs,” he said.
Modi said his government is formulating policies keeping in mind the need of businesses, abolishing archaic and obsolete laws.
Industry, he said, had been long demanding Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the BJP-led government implemented it and introduced measures like anti-profiteering to see that businesses pass on the benefit of lower taxes to the people.
As the government makes efforts to ensure maximum businesses register for GST, he said the more formal the system becomes, the more it will benefit the poor.
It will enable easier availability of credit from the banks, and reduce cost of logistics, thereby enhancing competitiveness of businesses.
As a result of these measures, India has climbed from 142nd position to 100 on the the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings.
He also mentioned other indicators which point to the robust health of the economy. He said that the steps taken by the Government are also playing a key role in job creation.
Modi said the hopes and aspirations of the people are to rid the country of internal problems like corruption and black money. Increasing ‘ease of living’ has been the focus of the government.
Political parties and chambers of industry should keep in mind the country’s requirements and the feelings of the people, and work accordingly, he said.