Jaitley slams Congress for doubting growth data

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today criticised Congress for questioning the GDP data, saying the party which ruled for 50 years is doubting the figures of the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Replying to a debate on the Budget in the Rajya Sabha, he said: "For the first time in the country, an argument is being extended by the party which was in power for 50 years in the country that the figures of Central Statistical Organisation are doubtful. This is a new argument extended."

He said the Congress Party felt that the GDP would fall by 2 per cent and further due to demonetisation. Some analysts also opined that the GDP growth would enter the negative zone, with one even suggesting that it would fall to 3 per cent.

In contrast, he said except for two, VAT collection in all big states increased in December.

"Anecdotal evidence can be anecdotal and unreal, but revenue targets are real," Jaitley said.

As per the CSO figure, GDP expanded by 7.1 per cent in the October-December quarter, when demonetisation was effected and 86 per cent of the currency withdrawn.

Responding to Jaitley, Congress leader Anand Sharma said: "We do not doubt GDP figures. We do not want question the credibility of the CSO".

However, he said, Chief Statistician T C A Anant himself had said that final figures would be given in June as the impact of demonetisation on informal sectors was yet to be ascertained.

On the non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans of public sector banks, Jaitley said the problem is associated with 20-30 big accounts and not across lakhs of companies.

He said these accounts existed before the NDA government came into power.

The government is taking several steps to address the bad loan problems in the public sector bank.

Bad loans of public sector banks rose by over Rs 1 lakh crore during April-December period of 2016-17, the bulk of which came from power, steel, road infrastructure and textiles sectors. Public sector banks' gross bad loans stood at Rs 5,02,068 crore at the end of 2015-16.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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