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Policy paralysis? Govt, Opp fight over economic advisor's remarks

Friday April 20, 2012 07:56:00 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Finance ministry chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu's remarks that major reforms were unlikely before the next general elections kicked off a slugfest between the government and the opposition Friday, the BJP accusing the government of "policy paralysis" and a senior minister hitting back that the opposition's non-cooperation prevented bills from getting passed.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cautioned the government against going on the path of financial reforms while Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) said the economy needed fiscal corrective measures.

Media reports cited Basu telling a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace meeting in Washington Wednesday that major economic reforms in India were unlikely to happen before the next parliamentary elections.

He is also reported to have referred to corruption scandals and said that decision making had slowed down because of factors such as bureaucracy not taking risks and the coalition nature of government. He said there could be a rush of reforms after 2014 elections.

BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the scam-hit government has lost the trust of its allies and demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clarify his position on the remarks of Basu.

"It reflects on the policy paralysis we have been talking about...It is an indication that the government has conclusively taken a call that no more reforms can take place in the UPA II," Rudy told IANS.

"The trust in alliance partners has waned...It sounds like impending elections," he said.

Later, at a press conference, Rudy demanded the prime minister clarify the remarks of the chief economic advisor to the finance ministry.

Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told IANS: "The will to govern is being lost. Executive decisions are being referred to court. Different and varied views are coming from the government."

She said there "was no commitment to reforms by the government in spite of the opposition's willingness to engage".

She also accused the government of "lack of preparation" on key bills.

JD-U leader N.K. Singh said macro-economic situation of the country was far from happy.

Referring to Basu's remarks, N.K. Singh said the chief economic advisor had surmised about the difficulty in getting legislations through "which is not a positive news".

He said a slew of macro-economic measures can be taken by the government as these did not require legislative sanction.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, however, denied that the chief economic advisor was talking about policy paralysis. She said Basu spoke in the context of "what happened in the last two sessions" of parliament and of the opposition "not cooperating in the discussion on 40-50 bills" that were pending.

Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy said the country had recorded nearly seven percent growth despite economic recession in some parts of the world.

"There is good agricultural output. Service sector is getting better," Narayansamy said.

Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury told IANS: "No reform can come about singly. The changes and orientation has already started."

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said India managed to protect itself in the past from global economic slowdown because there was no financial liberalisation.

Yechury, whose comments were telecast by a TV channel, said global recession was imminent and financial liberalisation "will be a suicidal path to take".

"There is a shining India and suffering India. The divide is widening. We need to bridge this divide. This is not going to come about with this kind of reforms," Yechury said.





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