Nobel laureate Banerjee speaks on economic crisis in India

Abhijit Banerjee

New Delhi: Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee said the government’s stringent commitment to low inflation has resulted in farm distress by adversely impacting support price for agricultural produce. Striking a note of caution, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more faith incorporates than him.

“I think Mr Modi has more faith in the corporate sector than I do. The recent tax cuts show that someone in the administration believes that you have to give corporate sector lots of money to get growth. I do not believe that,” Banerjee, who has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics along with two others, said here.

Banerjee added that the corporate tax cut would not bring growth but probably moderation in direct tax could push the growth northward. The government last month slashed the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent for domestic companies to push sagging economy. “The commitment to low inflation dove it to clamp down on support price…agricultural income went down relative to rest of the country. This was agricultural distress. Farmers are unhappy,” he said. As a result, he said the government was forced to put money for PM-KISAN.

On the stress in the banking sector, he said part of the problem is that decision-making is absolutely frozen. The economy hit six-year low of 5 per cent for the first quarter of the current financial year. The tax rate was brought down further lower at 15 per cent for new manufacturing companies. Speaking on the government’s drive to divest its stake in public sector enterprises, the economist said that selling government stake in PSUs was not a long-term solution to bridge the fiscal deficit target. “In short term, selling PSU is a good idea but it is not a long term solution,” he said.

The government aims to raise Rs 1.05 lakh through disinvestment in the current fiscal. He also said disinvestment is not long-term solution for bridging fiscal deficit. Monetary Policy Committee headed by RBI Governor is entrusted with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of (plus, minus) 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The headline inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (Combined), rose to a 14-month high of 3.99 per cent in September from 3.28 per cent the previous month.