Agencies, New Delhi
Countering the criticism of BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha on his handling of the economy, Finance Minister P Chaidambaram today asserted that the fundamentals of the Indian economy are extremely strong and under his watch, the reserves have crossed 300 billion US dollars.
Mr Chidambaram, a senior spokesman for the Congress, told reporters, ‘’Most of Mr Sinha’s questions were puerile.
‘’That is why most of the business papers did not carry them.
‘’It is notable in this context that the two years that registered the lowest growth were between 2001-2002 and 2002-2003.
‘’The Finance Minister under whose period these figures were recorded was Yashwant Sinha who is a distant memory to the people of India today and I hope he remains so.’’
Mr Sinha had yesterday said that Mr Chidambaram will go down in history ‘as a spoiler and an arrogant leader’ who inherited a healthy economy but left it in a mess.
Addressing a news conference here, Mr Sinha said there was ‘an investment crisis’ and Mr Chidambaram had tried to bring down the fiscal deficit ‘artificially’, which was now going to create a problem for the new government.
Mr Sinha posed 18 questions before Mr Chidambaram on the present state of the economy in which he blasted him on various counts.
Mr Sinha asked him to explain as to why the economic growth rate had been brought down to 4.5 per cent during the two years of his tenure while he inherited a fairly healthy economy in 1996 when he became Finance Minister for the first time in the United Front government.
Mr Chidambaram said the fundamentals of the Indian Economy remained strong. ‘’The fundamentals of the economy are strong.
‘’There is no talk of downgrades. The year will end with a fiscal deficit of 4.6 per cent as planned.
‘’Our reserves have crossed 300 billion US dollars, Current Account Deficit is now likely to be 35 billion US dollars.
‘’What we set out to do after my return to finance ministry has been established,’’ Mr Chidambaram said. Mr Chidambaram said the markets in the country began celebrating the day Mr Sinha decided not to contest.