New Delhi : The Congress on Saturday slammed the BJP-led Union government over the country’s debt terbling in the last nine years, and demanded a ‘white paper’ on the state of the economy with total debt crossing Rs 155 lakh crore and the debt-to-GDP ratio touching 84 per cent.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “The Narendra Modi-led government has trebled India’s debt, which from Rs 55 lakh crore in 2014 has now gone past Rs 155 lakh crore.”
She said that 14 Prime Ministers in 67 years raised debt to Rs 55 lakh crore, but Modi alone has increased it by over Rs 100 lakh crore in the last nine years.
“Economy cannot be managed by managing the headlines, nor can it be managed by WhatsApp forwards. It can only be managed with efficient economic management,” said Shrinate, who is also the Chairperson of Social Media and Digital Platforms.
She also said that every child born in India today carries a debt of Rs 1.2 lakh on his head right from his birth.
Claiming that every year the country spends Rs 11 lakh crore on servicing this humongous debt, she pointed out that India’s debt-to-GDP ratio has gone up to 84 per cent which is alarming when compared to other developing and emerging market economies, where the average debt-to-GDP ratio is 64.5 per cent.
“India is bearing an annual cost of Rs 11 lakh crore to service this mounting debt. But questions are also being raised on the debt servicing capacity. According to the CAG report, government debt was 52.5 per cent of the GDP in 2019-20 and debt sustainability had turned negative in that year. With debt at 84 per cent of the GDP, debt sustainability remains suspect,” Shrinate said.
The Congress spokesperson also alleged that the benefit of this debt had not reached the poor or the middle-classes, but only a select few affluent billionaires.
She said, “While 23 crore Indians had slipped below the poverty line, there was an increase of billionaires in India from 102 in 2020 to 166 in 2022.”
The Congress leader also referred to GST collections, claiming that these were also being predominantly collected from the lower and the middle-class people only.
She disclosed that 50 per cent of the population at the bottom with just 3 per cent of the country’s wealth are contributing 64 per cent to GST, with the middle class contributing 40 per cent.
“Compared to that, the richest few, who own 80 per cent of the country’s wealth, are contributing a meagre 3-4 per cent,” she claimed.
She also warned that the consumption ratio to GDP has also come down to 60 per cent from 61 per cent, adding that this should be a matter of serious concern as people have lost their purchasing power which is not good for the country’s economy.
Talking about the prices of cooking gas, petrol and diesel, Shrinate said that gas cylinder in India is the costliest in the world, while petrol is third and diesel is eighth most expensive in the world.
She asked why the government is not passing on the benefit of reduction in crude prices in the international market to the consumers.