New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Finance Minister Piyush Goyal took several veiled digs at the Congress in his budget speech on Friday, targeting it over policy paralysis, inflation and mounting non-performing assets of banks.
He also sought to present the Modi government as the “most decisive, stable and clean” which has undertaken “transformational structural reforms”, changed the mindset and ignited the country’s self-confidence.
Targeting the previous Congress-led UPA government over inflation, he said the average rate of inflation during 2009-14 “was a backbreaking” 10.1 per cent.
“The then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) admitted as much when he said, `We have also not been as successful in controlling persistent inflation as we would have wished. This is primarily because food inflation has increased.'”
He said inflation was “a hidden and unfair tax on the poor and the middle class” and the Modi government “has broken the back of back-breaking inflation.”
“We brought down average inflation to 4.6 per cent which is lower than the inflation during the tenure of any other government. In fact, inflation in December 2018 was down to 2.19 per cent only. If we had not controlled inflation, our families would have been spending around 35-40 per cent more today on basic necessities such as food, travel, consumer durables, housing,” Goyal said.
He said outstanding loans of public sector banks ballooned from Rs 18 lakh crore to Rs 52 lakh crore during UPA rule and was the primary reason for the spurt in non-performing loans and stressed assets.
Goyal said many projects were started that could either not be completed or had low capacity utilisation resulting in their inability to pay back their loans.
He said there were high-stressed and NPAs of Rs 5.4 lakh crore in 2014.
“Many more were hidden through restructuring or otherwise which were discovered during Asset Quality Reviews and inspections carried out since 2015.
“We put a stop to such questionable practices and stopped the culture of ‘phone banking’. The 4Rs approach of recognition, resolution, re-capitalisation and reforms has been followed.”
With the Congress having repeatedly accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of working only for industralists, Goyal said earlier that only small businessmen used to be under pressure of repayment of loans while it was the headache of banks in the case of big businessmen.
“But now, defaulting managements are either paying or exiting their businesses. An amount of close to Rs 3 lakh crore has already been recovered in favour of banks and creditors.
“We have reversed the policy paralysis engulfing the nation and have restored the image of the country,” he added.
Goyal said the government was moving towards realising a ‘New India’ by 2022, when the country will celebrate 75th year of its independence.
“We have a decisive leadership whose intentions are honest, policies are clear and which is firm in its determination.”