Pranab denies stimulus was root of present economic problems

Pranab MukherjeeIndian president Pranab Mukherjee (above) said stimulus packages were provided to ensure the downslide of the GDP growth leading to unemployment could be arrested. (Reuters)

President Pranab Mukherjee has sought to counter criticism against the economic stimulus provided when he was the Finance Minister in 2009 and maintained that economy under him registered high growth rates.

Seeking to debunk criticism that the stimulus was responsible for high fiscal deficit and depreciation of rupee, he told Euronews, "like most other countries we provided stimulus package to ensure that fastest sliding down of the GDP growth leading to unemployment could be arrested. In India we got temporary relief because in the year, from 9 per cent GDP growth we had registered a 6.7 per cent (2007-08)."

But, Mukherjee said, in the remaining two years, India registered high growth of 8.7 per cent (2009-2010) and 9.3 per cent (2010-11). But again from the third year it started sliding down.

India's economic growth rate slipped to 6.2 per cent in 2011-12 and to a decade's low of 5 per cent a year after. In the first quarter of the current financial year it was 4.4 per cent. According to Asian Development Bank's latest projection the growth rate could fall to 4.7 per cent in 2013-14.

Mukherjee said that when he took over as Finance Minister in January 2009 the impact of the global financial crisis was being felt on India.

Observing that his immediate task was to deal with the ensuing economic problems, he said, "Indian GDP was growing at a fast rate of around 9 per cent plus. But when I took over I found out that there was on a fortnightly basis sliding down of the GDP growth."

In order to deal with the global crisis of 2008, he said, the then US President George Bush called the first G20 summit and there was broad consensus that countries should provide stimulus to address the economic woes.

From the hindsight, Mukherjee said, the people did not understand the depth of the crisis at that point of time. "Frankly speaking, we could not recover from that shock. I am not talking of India but also the whole world."

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