New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Saturday hit out at the government over lower growth estimates for the current fiscal, saying the worst fears of an imminent economic slowdown have come true.

There is a decline in new projects and fresh investment, Chidambaram claimed in a statement. The informal sector is reeling under the ill effects of demonetisation. Job creation is abysmal, exports are plunging, and manufacturing sector growth has slowed down. The agriculture sector has been hit hard and rural despair is abundant, he claimed.

Job creation remained the “single biggest failure" of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. The bank credit growth was extremely sluggish and it did not bode well for the economy, he said. “The worst fears of an imminent economic slowdown have come true. The Modi government’s tall claims of India growing at a ‘robust’ growth rate have evaporated in thin air.

“No amount of sugar coating, false bravado and rhetoric along with headlines management can conceal the stark reality. Our fears and warnings have proved true," the Congress leader said. He said the recent social discontent could be a “direct manifestation of this economic slowdown, which the government was conveniently hiding". It was time the government stopped making tall claims and did some solid work, he said.

Citing government data, the former finance minister said the GDP growth rate was 8% in 2015-16, 7.1% in 2016-17. It is estimated at 6.5% in 2017-18, “which proves there is a slowdown". A decline in economic activity and growth meant loss of millions of jobs, he said. While the GDP growth is estimated at 6.5% during 2017-18 as compared to 7.1% in 2016-17, the anticipated growth of real GVA at basic prices in 2017-18 is 6.1% as against 6.6% in 2016-17, he said.

Retail inflation soared to a 15-month high of 4.88% in November and industrial output hit a three-month low of 2.2% in October, he pointed out. “The investment picture remains bleak... The manufacturing sector has seen the sharpest fall and fiscal deficit is likely to overshoot the budget estimates of 3.2 per cent of GDP," the Congress leader said.

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