File photo of former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Photograph:( AFP )
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that November 8, 2016 was a black day for the Indian economy and democracy.
Singh was speaking in Ahmedabad.
November 8, tomorrow, is the first anniversary of demonetisation.
"Tomorrow we mark one year since the disastrous policy was thrust on the people of our country," Singh said.
He added that no other country in the world has taken such a "drastic" step that got rid, in one fell swoop, of 86 per cent of its currency.
Singh added that "coercive steps like demonetisation" are ineffective at reaching the goal of a less-cash economy.
Organised loot and legalised plunder
"I repeat what I said in parliament," Singh said. "This was organised loot and legalised plunder."
"This twin (demonetisation and GST) blow is (a) complete disaster for our economy, it has broken the back of our small businesses," he added.
Singh added that the net result of the two moves was an increase in Chinese imports and the loss of Indian jobs.
"In first half of 2016-17, India's imports from China stood at Rs 1.96 lakh crore. In 2017-18, it increased to Rs 2.41 lakh crore," Singh said.
"Unprecedented growth of imports by over Rs 45,000 Cr, a 23% increase in a year, can be attributed largely to demonetisation, GST," Singh added.
"The fear of tax terrorism has eroded the confidence of Indian business to invest," Singh said.
In contrast, Singh said of his time in power, "I can proudly say that we lifted 140 million people out of poverty."
Bullet train exercise in vanity
And still Singh continued his attack on the government.
The bullet train, he said, launched with much fanfare, is an exercise in vanity.
He asked whether the prime minister had considered the alternative of upgrading the broad gauge railway?
And he asked whether questioning the bullet train made one anti-development? Does questioning GST & demonetisation make one a tax evader?
"This attitude of suspecting everyone to be (a) thief or anti-national, low-level rhetoric is damaging to democratic discourse," Singh said.