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Chintan Shivir: Congress calls for reset of economic policy post liberalisation

Aditi Tandon

Udaipur, May 14

The Congress on Saturday called for reset of economic policy post liberalisation saying time is ripe to consider global and domestic factors to recalibrate the economic paradigm.

“We are not stepping back on liberalisation. We are stepping forward post liberalisation taking into account global and domestic factors,” former finance minister and chairman of the Congress Chintan Shivir committee on economy P Chidambaram said.

He also urged a reset of the Centre-state relations flagging the fragile financial health of most states saying, “Trust between the Centre and states had broken down and this was true of the relationship between the Centre and even the BJP-ruled states.”

He recalled the era of liberalisation in 1991 and enormous benefits the country reaped in terms of wealth creation, new businesses and new entrepreneurs, a huge middle class, millions of jobs, exports and lifting 27 crore people out of poverty during a 10-year period.

After 30 years, Chidambaram said it was now felt that taking into account global and domestic developments, it might be necessary to contemplate a reset of the economic policies.

The Congress would prepare a set of economic policies at the end of the Chintan Shivir on Sunday and these policies would finally feed into the party election manifesto in 2024.

Chidambaram explained the need for a reset of economic policies in terms of the urgency to address the questions of rising inequalities; extreme poverty among the bottom 10 per cent of the population; India’s rank in the Global Hunger Index 2021 (101 out of 116 countries); and evidence of widespread nutritional deficiency among women and children.

“A comprehensive review would also be justified by the health and education outcomes as revealed by the Annual State of Education Report 2021 (ASER 2021) and the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5). We believe that a re-calibration of economic policies can influence health and education outcomes,” said the Congress leader.

Describing the state of the Indian economy as a matter of extreme worry, the Congress said time is also ripe for a comprehensive review of Centre-states fiscal relations.

“The consequences of the poorly-drafted and unfairly-implemented GST laws brought in by the Modi government in 2017 are there for everyone to see. The states’ fiscal position is fragile as never before and needs urgent remedial measures,” Chidambaram said, delineating the thought process at the Chintan Shivir which commenced here on Friday.

The Congress’s call for a policy reset signalled the party’s urge to enhance spending on education, health, jobs and social security. The Congress is also mulling a legally guaranteed right to jobs structure in party-ruled states and replication of the promise in the 2024 general election manifesto.

It had in 2019 promised NYAY, a minimum income guarantee to the poor though the scheme did not reap electoral benefit.

The Congress Working Committee will meet on Sunday to adopt six resolutions which dedicated subject committees, leading deliberations at the Chintan Shivir, will pass.

The resolutions will pave the way for what the Congress will call a Nav Sankalp Resolution for comprehensive economic revival and battle readiness for the upcoming elections.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has called for extraordinary reforms to tackle the current challenges from the ruling BJP.

With the GST compensation set to end on June 30 this year, Chidambaram demanded its extension for another three years.

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