The UPA government had “inherited a healthy economy but made it non-performing in 10 years,” the Centre said in its comparative White Paper on the 10 years of the UPA and the decade under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an all-out attack on the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Centre accused the UPA government, which went out of office in 2014, of leaving behind “an unenviable legacy of a structurally weaker economy and a pervasive atmosphere of despondency”.
Calling it a “lost decade”, the UPA, the Centre said, had left a trail of economic mismanagement and “short-sighted handling of the public finances… and undermining the macroeconomic foundations”.
The government abandoned the principles that brought about the economic liberalisation. There was economic mismanagement and financial indiscipline, and there was widespread corruption, the Centre has said, slamming the Manmohan Singh government on a day he finishes his Rajya Sabha tenure.
“In 2004, when the UPA government began its term, the economy was growing at 8 per cent (with industry and services sector growth above 7 per cent each and a resuscitating agriculture sector growth above 9 per cent in FY04) amidst a benign world economic environment,” read the White Paper tabled by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in parliament this evening.
But instead of taking the reforms further and consolidating the gains, the UPA only “took credit” for the high growth brought about by the “lagged effects of the reforms of the NDA government and favourable global conditions”.
The White Paper said the average annual inflation rate between 2004 and 2014 was around 8.2% and accused the UPA of doing nothing to contain the high inflation.
After pursuing policies that created a huge fiscal deficit, the UPA government borrowed heavily from outside but used the funds in an unproductive manner. Infrastructure was neglected, development programnmes were mis-managed. Even the social sector schemes – which the UPA prided itself on — were laden with unspent funds, the Centre said on an issue that’s likely to draw a strong reaction from the Congress.
“Across the 14 major social and rural sector ministries, a cumulative Rs 94,060 crore of budgeted expenditure was left unspent” over the 10 years. This, the Centre said, amounted to 6.4 per cent of the cumulative budget, compared to the 1 per cent left unspent by the NDA government over the last decade.
The UPA government, it added, had also ignored defence preparedness and health expenditure, leaving it a “pain point” for Indian households.
A chunk of the White Paper was devoted to the mismanagement and scams that plagued the defence sector. “By 2012, shortage of combat-ready equipment and ammunition was a chronic issue plaguing our forces. One would also recall the long-drawn process of procurement of fighter aircraft that never reached any conclusion. Even the decision to provide bullet-proof jackets and night vision goggles to Indian Army soldiers was kept hanging for years,” the White Paper read.
The UPA had also crash-landed when it came to drawing investment and creating ease of ding business — the issues that have become the watchword of the NDA government. “The UPA government’s policy inaction and missteps put off valuable private investment, which could have generated growth and jobs, at its own peril,” the White Paper read.
A section of the White Paper was devoted to scams the UPA government was accused of – the 2G scam and Aircel-Maxis cases in the telecom sector, coal block allocations, Commonwealth Games, Saradha chit fund, INX Media Case, the irregularities during the Commonweath games and Augusta Westland Helicopter Scam and the Hawk Aircraft Purchase in the Defence sector.
When it took over in 2014, the Narendra Modi government “recognized
the urgent need to revamp and overhaul systems and processes”. The reforms undertaken has pushed back the country from the league of the “Fragile Five” to the ‘Top Five”.
The Paper, however, added that there are “miles to go and mountains to scale before we sleep” as the destination is to make India a developed nation by 2047.
Sources said every state unit of the party will raise awareness on the white paper. From efficient tax collection to reforms such as solvency code, emphasis on self reliance will be talked about at length.
The White Paper will be discussed in parliament tomorrow, when the Congress is expected to come up with a strong rebuttal. Ahead of the White Paper, the party had presented a “Black Paper” targeting the Centre.
“The government will never say how many people got jobs. They are releasing MNREGA funds. They are discriminating against states,” Mr Kharge said, slamming the government for perpetually targeting the Congress.
“Despite being in power for 10 years, instead of talking about himself, he only criticises the Congress party. Even today he did not talk about price rise, unemployment and economic inequality?” Mr Kharge said. “‘Modi Ki Guarantee’ is only to spread LIES!” he added, citing the huge campaign undertaken by the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due in summer.