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Sitharaman fires next round against Manmohan Singh; says India on par with China in growth rate

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When asked if India’s image as a foreign investment destination had taken a beating, the minister said that despite IMF reducing India’s growth projection to 6.1%, “India is still growing the fastest in the given global scenario.”
Washington: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sternly pushed back against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the number of corruption cases under the UPA government tells its own story.

She was responding to a question about Singh’s comment that her government was “obsessed with trying to fix the blame on its opponents” instead of finding solutions.

“Recalling when and what went wrong during a certain period is absolutely necessary,” she told Indian journalists in Washington, where she was to attend the World Bank-IMF meetings.

It is more than apparent when “the wrong doings happened”, as this government tries to clear the clog from public sector banks (PSBs) and pursue all those who have taken money during the UPA and gone out of the country, Sitharaman stressed.

She accused the UPA government of giving loans on the basis of "phone calls" and supporting “crony capitalism.” “I wish the Congress Party had the courage of conviction to hear it [criticism] loud and clear,” she said, adding that her government doesn’t given loans to cronies or look the other way.

Sitharaman was responding to what has now become a battle of comments and counter-comments. It started with her saying that PSBs had their “worst phase” under Singh and Raghuram Rajan, the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Rajan’s comment that the government didn’t have a coherent narrative on the economy seems to have stung the minister. Sitharaman said those making the comments probably haven’t seen the government’s responses or know its targets.

When asked if India’s image as a foreign investment destination had taken a beating, the minister said that despite IMF reducing India’s growth projection to 6.1%, “India is still growing the fastest in the given global scenario.”

Sitharaman then brought in China, saying India’s growth rate was on par or tied with China. “The moment I say this, I am sure friends back home [will say], ‘Oh, you don’t the size of the Chinese economy.’"

She said she was “purposely setting the narrative in this manner” to drive home the point that India is tied with China in terms of the growth rate. “I wish it can be more. I wish it [India] can grow faster, and I’ll make every effort to make it grow faster.

When asked if there might be a stimulus package before Diwali, she smiled and said there was hardly any time left but she is waiting to return home to have the full picture.

On the question of whether the economic slowdown is “cyclical or structural,” the minister said, “It may be both. It may not be both. It may be partly one or partly the other. I don’t have the luxury of sitting and looking at which way it’s going. I have all the time to know what people want me to do and respond to them accordingly.”
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