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Demonetization to have a significant adverse impact on GDP: Manmohan Singh

Demonetization will have a “very significant adverse effect” on the country’s GDP and will be an issue in the upcoming assembly elections in five states, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday. “You will see there will be a very significant adverse effect on the country’s GDP,” Singh said, after releasing the the Congress manifesto for Punjab polls.

Recalling his statement in Parliament that demonetization will have a very adverse impact on the GDP of the country, Singh said subsequent developments have proved him right. In this context, he referred to the recent projection by the National Income Unit of the Central Statistical Organisation that the GDP in 2016-17 will slow down to 7.1% from 7.6% a year earlier. This, he said, had not accounted for demonetization, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an unusual address to the nation on the night of November 8. Asked whether elections would be fought on the issue of demonetization, he said, “It will be an issue in the assembly elections in five states.”

Manmohan Singh has been highly critical of demonetization decision and has predicted a 2% drop in the country’s GDP due to it. Speaking in Rajya Sabha during a debate on the issue, Singh had castigated the government and the Prime Minister over the note ban, saying its implementation was a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder.” Singh, who spoke in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha, said the decision will result in decline of GDP by 2%, it being an “under-estimate”.

“These measures convinced me that the way the scheme has been implemented, it’s a monumental management failure. And in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder,” he had said. Manmohan said Amarinder Singh’s commitment to the cause of development of Punjab is “unrivalled”. “I believe that Punjab is in for better times under the leadership of Amarinder. This better tomorrow will see development of State both in economy and management of polity. The fiscal situation in Punjab under the SAD-BJP government has been mismanaged in a manner which is unprecedented,” he said.

The manifesto promises to redeem Punjab’s lost honour and to restore its rightful place and announced to free the state and its people from the shackles of Badal government on the state’s resources, which it alleged has been marked by widespread corruption, lawlessness, mafia rule and nepotism. The manifesto also vowed to bring in total transparency in governance as well as all financial and political systems through innovative initiatives and out-of-the-box measures. The manifesto is being launched in Chandigarh and five other cities in Punjab as well.

Amarinder said the manifesto has taken six months and the team led by former deputy chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal visited places across the state and met people of all walks of life and got inputs from former Prime Minister Singh. “We will be taking over a deficit state. Government is operating by selling land and mortgaging buildings, including old age homes. Some funds like Mandi Board have been mortgaged for seven years. Nevertheless, we have made a comprehensive manifesto. We have covered every facet of Punjab. “Rural debt in Punjab is Rs 67,000 crore. We are planning to take over debt of every farmer and negotiate with banks. We will negotiate how we will service the debt and how we will repay the loan. This ordinarily should be the job of the government of India. We are committed with doing away with farm debt. We will manage this situation by thinking innovatively,” he said.

Noting that this is his last election, Amarinder said, “For 47 years, I have been in politics and this is my last election. I am not going to fight again. People know that what I say, I fulfil.” Amarinder said the party has included a Re 1 cess per bottle of alcohol, “which directly serviced our requirement to provide for social commitments”. Talking about the programme of providing jobs in every family, he said, “We will monitor what jobs are needed. This will be overseen from Chief Minister’s Office. Till jobs are available we will give Rs 2500 stipend to every youngster Drugs is the first thing we will attack and in four weeks we will end this drug menace in Punjab.”

Announcing other measures, he said, “We will provide affordable electricity. If we want industry to come to Punjab then we have to give a level playing field. We will reduce power tariff to industry from Rs 7.60 down to Rs 5.00. We will pool land, purchased at market rates, which we will give to industries which guarantee jobs.” Amarinder dismissed suggestions that his promise to provide jobs to all unemployed in the state was like the Rs 15-lakh in all accounts promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “People know what I promise, I do fulfil them,” he said. A crackdown on drugs and a series of wide-ranging new legislations to control important administrative and legal functions, time-bound steps to bolster employment and revive agriculture and industry, ending of VVIP culture, bringing the marginalized and minorities back into the societal mainstream, are the key highlights of the 120-page manifesto The manifesto also addressed in detail, issues concerning government employees, education institutions and teachers, healthcare system and the media. The manifesto includes a 10 page chargesheet against the Badal regime, exposing the alleged “Loot, Boot & Shoot” policy of the SAD-BJP government that also lists out the multiple failures of the Akali “misrule” of past 10 years. The chargesheet is led by a section on ‘Family First the family comes first while the state goes to dumps’ and underlines ‘Why it’s imperative for the people of Punjab to rid themselves of a decade of SAD-BJP misrule’.