Nirmala Sitharaman. (IANS Photo)
New Delhi, August 10 (IANS): Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that from being declared a fragile economy in 2013, India is now among the fastest growing economies in the world with real GDP growth being 7.2 per cent in 2022-23, which is expected to expand by 6.5 per cent in the current financial year.
Participating in the discussion on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, the finance minister said India's growth is in stark contrast to the deceleration being seen in the global economy.
Sitharaman observed that within nine years, the Indian economy has risen and experienced substantial economic growth, largely due to the government's policies, despite the Covid pandemic.
She said that India finds itself in a unique situation of harbouring optimism and positivity regarding its future growth.
Taking potshots at the earlier UPA regimes, the finance minister said, "We only heard of slogans like 'Garibi Hatao', but never saw it happen for six decades. We don't give post dated cheques. Earlier it was 'milega', 'banega' and 'hoga'. Now all this has changed to ban 'gaya', 'mil gaya' and 'ho gaya'."
All the treasury benches could be seen echoing Sitharaman's comments.
The UPA, she said, wasted a generation because of corruption. "Under NDA, we have seen high growth and low inflation. We believe in empowering all and appeasement of none," Sitharaman added.
The finance minister also targetted the opposition bloc INDIA, calling it a bizarre partnership.
"In Punjab, Congress and AAP are fighting. In Bengal, TMC, Left and Congress are fighting. In Kerala, Left and Congress are fighting. In J&K, the National Conference and PDP are fighting, etc," she said.
Sitharaman, while referring to direct benefit transfer (DBT) , said that it serves as a model for the global community.
She acknowledged the implementation of DBT by the UPA, but pointed out that only Rs 7,367 crore were transferred in 2013-14.
However, DBT transfers have grown five-folds.
She informed that India's UPI was now a global success story, being emulated by many nations.
Banks now were functioning professionally and NPAs had been drastically reduced from where they stood 10 years back.
"Aapka phailaya rayta hum saaf kar rahe hain" she quipped amid peels of laughter by treasury benches.
She even had a war of words with DMK MPs, while informing the House about the AIIMS in Madurai, which she said will have 900 beds, 150 more than other such institutes.
When DMK members Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran sought to know where the facilities were and that the minister was misleading the House, a war of words began between the DMK MPs and Sitharaman erupted.
She could be heard saying that the new AIIMS won't burden Tamil Nadu, however the DMK MPs started shouting "Yeppo! Yeppo!" (Where! Where!"). In retaliation, the BJP MPs started chanting "Modi! Modi!"
When TMC's Sougata Ray said that she was from the Rajya Sabha, the finance minister snapped back, saying that UPA's prime minister was also imported from the Upper House, referring to Manmohan Singh.
The opposition MPs at this stage, walked out of the House.
Speaker Om Birla urged both the treasury benches and opposition members not to indulge in sloganeering.
Speaking about inflation, the finance minister also listed out measures to curb it, especially on controlling prices of pulses and tomatoes.
She said that the process of procuring tomatoes from tomato-producing states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, followed by their distribution through cooperative societies like NCCF and NAFED, is underway.
This initiative has already commenced in regions including Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan since July 14 and it will continue, she informed further.
In addition to this, in Delhi, mobile vans are being employed as outlets for NCCF, NAFED, and Kendriya Bhandar to facilitate distribution.
Sitharaman further elaborated that the wholesale mandi prices for tomatoes in several states have already started coming down.
Additionally, efforts have been made to import tomatoes from Nepal by lifting import restrictions, and the initial batch of tomatoes from Nepal is anticipated to reach Varanasi and Kanpur by Friday, the finance minister informed