Speaking at the AICC headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that India is in the midst of a “protracted economic slowdown”
He highlighted a series of problems with the Indian economy, including a downturn in agriculture, real estate and manufacturing, a slowing agriculture sector growth rate (2.7 per cent from 3.5 per cent the previous year), a static real wage rate in agriculture and rural sectors, a lack of demand for real estate in metro cities affecting construction, and the falling rupee.
He warned that more than 3.5 lakh jobs have been lost in the automobile sector, with large-scale job losses to follow in the informal sector. He blamed slowing rural income on the government’s low-inflation rates.
Singh warned that if income growth slowed down quarter after quarter, the scope to create more jobs to young people will get seriously affected. He urged the government to recognise the crisis, repeating his earlier plea that the government reach out to ‘sane, thinking minds’
Earlier, in an interview with Hindu Business Line, he urged the government to take up “the next generation of structural reforms”, reiterating his stance that demonetisation and the hasty implementation of GST had served as the triggers of the crisis.
He suggested six measures to address the situation, namely, to simplify the GST regime, kick-start rural consumption and revive agriculture, tackle the liquidity crisis affecting both public sector banks and NBFCs, revive job-intensive sectors like textiles, auto, electronics and affordable housing and assure them priority lending, particularly for MSME, and to find ways to boost exports in the wake of the US-China trade war. Singh added that a roadmap needs to be made for ‘massive public infrastructure development, including private investment’.