Congress’ half-truths

The Congress’ document, The Real State of the Economy, released a day before the government presented Economic Survey 2016-17. Typically, it was a blend of truths and half-truths.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P. Chidambaram unveiled the report on the economy in the last two years. “A day before the Economic Survey, we thought we should bring out a document that sets out what we consider as a dose of realism, so that the country as a whole has ways and means of finding or assessing where the economy is…,” Singh said.

Chidambaram rightly pointed out that the health of the economy should be viewed in terms of job creation, credit growth, etc. In the second quarter of this fiscal, only 77,000 jobs were created and these included as much as 50,000 in the government. He went on to highlight 11 lakh jobs generated in 2010, alluding to the failure of the Narendra Modi government’s poor record in this area.

Credit growth, too, is abysmal, standing at around 5 per cent, the lowest in decades, he added.

So far, so good. But what Messrs Singh and Chidambaram didn’t say was that while 60.7 million new jobs were generated between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, only 2.76 million new jobs were created between 2004-05 and 2009-10. The situation on the job front improved slightly in the second terms of the Congress-led UPA regime, but was never nearly as good as during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Ten years of under Singh did not create even a fraction of the jobs that were generated during five years of Vajpayee rule. This was despite the fact that the average growth rate during 1999-2004 was just 5.7 per cent, against 7.5 per cent during the UPA’s two terms in office.

At the press conference in which the shadow Economic Survey was released on Monday, Chidambaram said that the Narendra Modi government was trying to conceal its inadequacies and failures by the “dazzle” of numbers, essentially economic growth figures which he didn’t seem convince with. But it is actually his party that is trying to dazzle the world with statistics.