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'Economy in doldrums even before Covid-19'

New Delhi: The Indian economy was in the doldrums even before the COVID-19 crisis and the government's response following the pandemic has only made the situation worse, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said on Friday.

Participating in the debate on Supplementary Demands for Grants 2020-21, Chowdhury, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said the stimulus package announced to help the nation tide over the crisis was a "pitiful 1.7 per cent of GDP".

"The economy was in doldrums when COVID-19 pandemic hit us in March. The government despite our plea, did not take corrective measures.

"It refused to accept that demonetisation was a huge blunder, it refused to accept our advice for a simple GST," he said.

Chowdhury further said the government did not transfer Rs 5,000-Rs 7,500 to the poorest 50 per cent of the Indian population, as suggested by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

"The Modi government's response to the pandemic-affected economy made the situation worse," he asserted.

Chowdhury alleged that the government made a false claim that it has provided 10 per cent of GDP as fiscal stimulus.

"It was big lie. The stimulus imparted by the Modi government was a pitiful 1.7 per cent of GDP," he said.

In May this year, the government had announced a Rs 20.97 lakh crore economic package, which included RBI's Rs 8.01 lakh crore worth of liquidity measure.

"The Rs 20 trillion Atmanirbhar Bharat package announced in May has a fiscal cost ranging between Rs 1.5 trillion to Rs 2 trillion...This is nothing but a bluff that the government has tried to pull off," the senior Congress leader argued.

Raising the issue of GST compensation to states, Chowdhury said the Centre is not giving the compensation money to the state governments and asking them to borrow funds from the RBI.

"It has been a complete breach of trust by the Centre...The central government is profiteering from the misery of states," he said.

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