Yashwant Sinha, BJP’s own, questions growth rate

RSTV Bureau
FILE: New Delhi: File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, New Delhi. File Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, New Delhi.
File Photo – PTI

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has also joined the list of those sceptical of India’s high growth rate figures. In what could be an uneasy development by the ruling party, the former Union Finance Minister has demanded that the government issue a clarification following the US State Department’s observation that the growth rate may be overstated.

The US State Department had last week commented in a report produced by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs that India’s 7.5 per cent growth rate may be “overstated”.

Stressing there has been domestic criticism of the growth figures as well, Yashwant Sinha has asked the BJP-led Central government to “clarify the situation”

“Not because I care for what the US has said but because there has been domestic criticism of it from certain quarters too,” the senior BJP leader, who has often faulted the Modi government over its economic and foreign policies, told the news agency on Monday.

His interview with the news agency was preceded by an opinion blog he wrote for the online version of New Delhi based news and current affairs TV network.

Even if domestic criticism is ignored, the government should now come out with a clarification after India’s “best friend” – the US – has also sounded unconvinced, he said.

According to the former BJP heavyweight, who served as Finance minister in Vajpayee government, the discrepancy figure of a whopping Rs 1,40,000 crore in 2015-16 may have inflated the growth rate and emphasised that it stood at only Rs 30,000 crore a year ago.

“If the discrepancies are removed, then the growth rate falls down drastically,” he told.

The NDA government has changed the criteria by which growth figures are evaluated and it has resulted in sharp upward revision of previous growth rates.

Questioning the Central government’s Department of Statistics, which puts out the figures, Sinha asked whether the statistics put by it can be trusted. Referring to his days when he chaired the standing committee on finance during the previous Lok Sabha, Yashwant Sinha claimed he found the statistics department making many “bloopers” in its report.

Earlier, in its report on July 6, questioning India’s growth rate, the US State Department had said that the Modi government has been “slow” to match its “rhetoric” in economic reforms.

“Ostensibly, India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, but this depressed investor sentiment suggests the approximately 7.5 per cent growth rate may be overstated,” the report titled “Investment Climate Statements for 2016” said.

The report, however, appreciated series of economic reforms especially streamlining bureaucratic decision making and raising FDI limits in certain sectors.

(With inputs from the PTI)