Manmohan Singh warns govt., economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time

Former PM wants NDA regime to restore certainty, visibility in economic policies

New Delhi

Attacking the Narendra Modi government for the 2016 demonetisation, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday urged the Centre to restore certainty and visibility in its economic policies.

The former PM also asked the current NDA regime not to indulge in any further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that could cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets.

Terming demonetisation an "ill-fated" and "ill-thought" exercise, Singh’s statement said: "Today marks the second anniversary of the ill-fated and ill-thought demonetisation… The havoc that it unleashed on the Indian economy and society is now evident to everyone.

"Notebandi (demonetisation) impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed," Singh said in a statement.

"I urge the government to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies. Today is a day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and understand that economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care."

He also said that even after two years, the economy was yet to "recover from the demonetisation shock".

"It is often said that time is a great healer.

But unfortunately, in the case of demonetisation, the scars and wounds of demonetisation are only getting more visible with time.

"Beyond the steep drop in headline GDP growth numbers after demonetisation, the deeper ramifications of note-bandi are still unravelling.

"Small and medium businesses that are the cornerstone of India’s economy are yet to recover from the demonetisation shock."

He also said that the step had "a direct impact on employment as the economy continues to struggle to create enough new jobs for our youth".

Singh said the financial markets are volatile as the liquidity crisis wrought by demonetisation is taking its eventual toll on infrastructure lenders and non-bank financial services firms.

"We are yet to understand and experience the full impact of the demonetisation exercise. With a depreciating currency and rising global oil prices, macroeconomic headwinds are also starting to blow now.

"It is therefore prudent to not resort to further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that can cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets."

In a sudden move that took everyone by surprise, Modi had on this day in 2016, announced a ban on the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. Meanwhile, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee Thursday said that demonetisation was a "disaster" for the country. The chief minister said she had been describing it as a "dark day" since demonetisation was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016.

In another development, On the second anniversary of demonetisation, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal Thursday questioned the rationale behind the Modi govt’s note ban move and termed it as "a self-inflicted deep wound" on the Indian economy.

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