Following the release of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Gross Value Added (GVA) figures for 2016-17 showing sliding of the economy by 1.3 percent, former finance minister P. Chidambaram on 2 June trained the guns on the Centre for ridiculing the suggestions of former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Reiterating his view, Chidambaram dubbed demonetisation as the biggest scam of 2016.
"The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) has released the GDP GVA figures for 2016-17. Finally, the bluff of the Government is called. The economy was slowing down in the middle of 2016 and we had cautioned the Government that unless it takes corrective steps, the economy will slide further. Instead of taking corrective steps, the Government decided to demonetise high-value currency. Suddenly, without any warning, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 were declared legal tender and something like Rs. 14.5-15 lakh crore was pulled out of money supply," Chidambaram told ANI.
Chidambaram slammed the Government for ignoring his and former prime minister Manmohan Singh's suggestions on the same, and instead ridiculing them.
"Immediately, we (Manmohan Singh, I) had cautioned that this was a wrong move and it will gravely affect the Indian economy. I had said that the hit to economy will be between 1-1.5 percent. We were laughed at, the Government ridiculed us. Now, what's the truth. The CSO has said that the economy has taken a hit of 1.3 percent. Right in the middle of the range I had given. That's going to cost the country Rs. 1.5 lakh crore," Chidambaram said.
Recalling the ill-effects demonetisation brought upon the country, the Congress leader said millions of people, agricultural workers, daily wage earners, self-employed people were put to misery.
Countering the Government's claim of implementing demonetisation in order to curb black money and corruption, Chidambaram said cases of the same have been detected all over the country.
"While, you and I could not get a Rs. 2,000 note for several days, bundles of the same were recovered from Khandla Port engineers, from highway chief engineers in Karnataka, from senior officials in Andhra Pradesh, from businessmen, lawyers, bankers, yet, even today, we don't know how these Rs. 2,000 notes found their way to these people. The Government promised an inquiry, but there has been no inquiry," he said.
Chidamabaram maintained that the Government must be guided by genuine economists, people who understand economy, people who understand development economics, people who understand the market economy.
"Instead, I am afraid this Government brushes aside the views of economists. In fact, it brushed aside the criticism of Manmohan Singh, and the result is this that the country has taken a big hit. I have repeatedly said, demonetisation was the biggest scam of 2016," he said.
Chidambaram demanded answers to various questions surrounding the much controversial and instantaneous decision of the Centre to demonetise high-denomination notes.
"The country has been hurt and the Government owes an explanation to the people why is embarked on this misadventure that has caused so much damage to the economy. I hope there will be answers very soon," he said.
The Congress has always been critical of the Government's move of demonetisation and Chidambaram has repeatedly called it as the biggest scam of 2016.