GST to rollout on July 1

Jun 18, 2017 0

New Delhi–The GST Council on Sunday unanimously agreed on July 1 rollout of the Goods and Services Tax despite some pending issues, with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying that India does not have the “luxury of time” to defer implemention of the new indirect tax regime.

“The GST Council categorically agreed on the implementation of GST from July 1,” Jaitley told reporters here after the penultimate meeting of the Council before the single pan-India GST is officially rolled out on the midnight of June 30, replacing the existing myriad central and state levies on both goods and services.

“A number of companies and trades have been raising the issue of the lack of their own preparedness. We do not have the luxury of time to defer implementation of GST,” he said, announcing that the next meeting of the Council headed by him would be held on June 30.

Regarding the government’s preparedness, Jaitley noted that over 80 per cent registered entities have already received their provisional GST registrations.

“If you take from the old system of registrations, then there are 80.91 lakh assessees, of whom some will get excluded. Registrations are going on satisfactorily and 65.6 lakh have already taken provisional registration, which is good enough to file returns,” he said, adding that some new trades will come under the GST for the first time.

Arun Jaitley

In this connection, the Finance Minister said that the Council has allowed businesses a relaxation of time for the first two months (July-August) for filing their returns. These would also need to submit only a simple declaration initially, and would have time to furnish the exact “invoice-by-invoice data” later.

The GST Council on Sunday also decided on a two-slab structure for taxing lottery tickets, which Jaitley said proved to be a contentious issue.

While state-run lotteries will be taxed at 12 per cent under the GST, state-authorised private lotteries will attract tax at the highest rate of 28 per cent.

The Council deferred a decision on e-way bills due to lack of consensus, which means states which have an e-way bill structure in place can continue with it, while others are exempt.

“Till a consolidated rule is framed by consesnsus, the transient rule will continue,” Jaitley said on the e-way bill issue.

E-way bill is an electronic way bill for movement of goods which can be generated on the GST Network (GSTN) portal. Movement of goods of more than Rs 50,000 in value cannot be made by a registered person without an e-way bill.

The e-way bill will be optional under the Goods and Services Tax, as decided by the GST Council.

Briefing reporters here during a pause in the Council’s 17th meeting, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said that he has requested that textiles and fertilisers be exempted from the GST.

He also said that commercial tax from all border posts will be removed from July 1 with the implementation of the GST.

Ramakrishnudu also said that the Council turned down all the other representations for revision in rates, after it had agreed to revision for a numeber of items at its previous meeting here on June 11.

Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the e-way bill will be optional under GST.

“States which have an e-way bill structure in place can continue with it. However, since Maharashtra does not have a e-way bill facility, the state will not be implementing it,” he said.

The Council also considered the revision of tax on hotel rooms and decided that while those in the range of Rs 2,000-Rs 7,500 a day tariff would face 18 per cent tax, rooms with daily tariff above Rs 7,500 would be taxed at 28 per cent. Restaurant service in 5-star hotels would attract 18 per cent tax, Jaitley said.

He revealed that only three states — Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir — are still to complete their necessary legisaltive formalities for implementing the GST regime. (IANS)

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Annapoorni Sankaran Honored With BU’s Silver Shingle Alumni Award

Jun 16, 2017 0

HOUSTON– Annapoorni Sankaran, shareholder in the Houston office of the global law firm Greenberg Traurig, has been awarded Boston University’s School of Law’s Silver Shingle Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession.

The Silver Shingle Award was established in 1967 to recognize graduates who have contributed significantly to the legal profession, the community, and the School of Law.  The Silver Shingle recognizes alumni whose contributions within the profession exemplify leadership, ethics, and integrity, and whose accomplishments reflect great credit upon their profession.

Annapoorni Sankaran

Sankaran received her B.A. cum laude in political science from Boston University and her J.D. from the Boston University School of Law.  While in law school, she was named the G. Joseph Tauro Scholar and served as case and note editor on the Probate Law Journal.

Sankaran is a commercial litigator at Greenberg Traurig with subspecialties in bankruptcy and bankruptcy litigation.  She represents institutional and individual clients in all stages of business disputes.

The Silver Shingle Award was presented to Sankaran in Boston at the Annual Silver Shingle Awards Gala, which occurred this year on June 10 during the 2017 Reunion Weekend.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GTLaw) has more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

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Indians working overseas sent home $62.74 billion, 3.3 percent of GDP in 2016

Jun 15, 2017 0

By Arul Louis

United Nations–Indians working overseas sent home $62.74 billion last year, an increase of 68.6 per cent in the last decade, according to a UN agency.

India received the most overseas remittances last year, a report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) issued here on Tuesday said.

The money sent by Indians overseas amounted to 3.3 per cent of India’s gross domestic product, the report said.

Gulf countries were the primary destination for Indian workers going abroad, with the US as a “popular destination”.

The US led the world as the country from which the most remittances – $3.6 billion – were made, the IFAD said.

Releasing the report, “Sending Money Home: Contributing to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), One Family at a Time”, IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo spoke of the impact the remittances had on improving the living standards of families in the home countries.

“The small amounts of $200 or $300 that each migrant sends home make up about 60 per cent of the family’s household income, and this makes an enormous difference in their lives and the communities in which they live,” he said.

More than 800 million family members are benefiting from the remittances by over 200 million migrant workers, IFAD said. It estimated that this year one-in-seven persons in the world will either send or receive a share of the $450 billion transferred globally.

“Remittances are expected to remain a stable source of finance to meet the immediate needs and aspirations of millions of families around the world,” the report said.

Even though the average cost of sending money home has decreased from about 10 per cent in 2008 to 7.45 per cent, it still takes chunk out of the remittances and IFAD said the UN development goals want it to be brought down further to 3 per cent by 2030.

“If legal and regulatory frameworks facilitate the use of technology and innovation, mobile phones, digital money, Internet-based mobile and Web applications will continue to drive costs down, strengthen financial access, and improve the possibility to deliver additional services,” the report added. (IANS)

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I have not diverted any money to IPL, says Mallya facing trial in a Rs 9,000-crore bank loan default case

Jun 13, 2017 0

London–Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya, whom India wants extradited for facing trial in a Rs 9,000-crore bank loan default case, on Tuesday claimed that he has not diverted any of the borrowed money to the team he owned in the IPL and asked reporters to “keep dreaming about the billions of pounds” that he had allegedly diverted.

Mallya, whose bail was continued till July 6, appeared before a Westminster magistrate court on Tuesday and later told media outside that he was delighted that he would be able to put up his case before a “fair and impartial” court here.

Accompanied by his son Siddharth, the 61-year old industrialist who fled India 15 months ago rejected all allegations of default of loans against him and denied he was called a thief by some spectators during a Champions Trophy match at the Oval grounds here.

“I am not going to answer any questions. There is a court of law. We will make submissions before the appropriate court of law,” he told reporters.

“You can keep dreaming about billions of pounds, provided you have facts to justify your questions. Otherwise, don’t put questions. Don’t ask irrelevant questions,” he said, when asked whether he had diverted the borrowed money to IPL team Royal Challengers, which he used to own.

This was the first hearing before a magistrate in what is called “management” proceedings before the actual trial begins. Mallya was asked to sit in the place where people facing trial are made to sit. His name was called out and his date of birth mentioned by way of confirming his identity.

Mallya, who owes as much as Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of Indian banks, fled to Britain in March last year. India is seeking his extradition for which the procedure has already begun and a team of the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation is chalking out the process.

Vijay Mallya (Photo: Twitter)

When he sought a barrier to keep away inquisitive television reporters from thrusting their mikes before him outside the court, the judge permitted that he may not be present at the next hearing on July 5.

During the proceedings, Mallya’s lawyers told the magistrate that the Indian government was coming up with a second extradition request which he would like to go through before giving his submissions. They wanted that the case be deferred till next year. Magistrate Emma Louis Arbuthnot, however, indicated that the case could be placed for regular trial in December.

When the magistrate enquired with the crown prosecution service about cooperation from India, he was told that there was good cooperation and coordination between the two sides.

Outside the court, the chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines by and large remained composed while answering media questions except when reporters tried to provoke him a couple of times.

When a British reporter asked him about the multiple flats he has in the UK, he shot back, “Multiple homes in UK – I have been living here since 1992.”

Mallya said he was here to defend himself as was expected.

“Were you in the court? Did you hear what the prosecution said, what my lawyers said and what the judge said?” he asked, refusing to go into what happened inside the court.

But when a reporter asked him about the “chor, chor” (thief) chants hurled at him during an India-South Africa match last week, Mallya said: “I was not called a thief. As two people in a drunken state yelled at me, didn’t you notice that there were several others who wished me well.”

Asked if he was relieved at being told by the court not to come for the next hearing on July 5, he said: “I do not want to say anything about what happened inside the court.”

“I am delighted that I can put forward my case before an impartial court,” he said.

Earlier before going into the court, Mallya said he had not eluded any court of law and denied all allegations levelled against him.

When a questioner noted that he has been in Britain for the last 15 months and was eluding courts in India, he said: “I have not eluded any court. It is my lawful duty to be here and I am here (London court).”

“I have nothing to say as the court proceedings are on and I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them,” Mallya said before appearing in the court.

Mallya also said he had “enough evidence” to fight the case, but parried a question whether he fears that a trial in India would be unfair to him. (IANS)

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Prime Minister Modi to Visit Washington at the Invitation of President Trump

Jun 12, 2017 0

WASHINGTON, DC—Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Washington DC on June 25-26, 2017, at the invitation of the President Donald J. Trump, Indian Embassy said in a statement.

Prime Minister will hold official talks with President Trump on June 26. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders.

“Their discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership between India and the U.S,” the statement said.

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These Two Indian-Americans Could Well Be the Youngest Billionaires—at Least on Paper

Jun 8, 2017 0

CHICAGO – Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, co-founders of Chicago-based Outcome Health, could well be the youngest Indian-American billionaires—at least on paper. Their firm recently announced the financing round valuing the company at $5 billion pre-money. The company raised about $500 million in venture capital.

Outcome Health partners with healthcare providers to serve actionable health intelligence at the moment of care to improve patient outcomes. The size of this investment and the quality of participants apositions the company to also drive growth across emerging opportunities such as clinical trials, payers, pharmacies and international markets.

Rishi Shah

Investors in the company include Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Alphabet’s growth equity investment fund CapitalG, Leerink Transformation Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Balyasny Asset Management, among many others, as well as strategic health systems and healthcare stakeholders aligned with the company’s mission.

“Outcome Health and its investors share a commitment to activate the best health outcome possible for every person in the world. We believe achieving this at scale will require building a ubiquitous network that brings together all sides of healthcare to support patients and healthcare providers whenever, wherever and however they make critical healthcare decisions,” Outcome Health CEO Shah said in a statement. “We are grateful to have been entrusted to realize this vision by so many important stakeholders. Together, we have the opportunity to create the exam room of the future, physically and digitally, and evolve healthcare decision making from the currency of information to the currency of intelligence.”

One of the company’s exam room technologies is its Digital Anatomy Board, which facilitates effective communication through 3D anatomical diagrams that physicians can annotate during patient consultations to visualize the patient’s medical condition, related symptoms and treatment options.

“Using the Outcome Health Digital Anatomy Boards is an opportunity to dialogue with a patient and explain their medical problem in a visual way,” says Dr. Neil Baum, a urologist in New Orleans. “I use the Digital Anatomy Boards with nearly every patient and I have found that patients appreciate and, more importantly, understand the problem and what needs to be done to resolve the problem.”

The company says it is transforming the patient experience while empowering healthcare providers to achieve the transition towards value-based care.

“Outcome Health is improving the point-of-care decision-making process that leads to better healthcare outcomes,” said Christopher Dawe, co-head of the Venture Capital and Growth Equity team at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners. “This investment is consistent with our broader philosophy of backing mission-driven teams who are bringing positive transformation to large addressable markets.”

“We are thrilled to be partners to Outcome Health and to support their growth as they deploy their health intelligence platform in physician consultation rooms around the world,” said Laela Sturdy, partner at CapitalG, Alphabet’s growth equity fund.

Co-founder Shradha Agarwal

“Outcome Health has transformed the point-of-care into a key source of intelligence for patients, providers and life sciences partners alike,” said Marco DeMeireles, Principal – Private Investments, at Balyasny Asset Management. “We look forward to partnering with Rishi, Shradha, and the Outcome team as they create new tools and business lines that reshape the way healthcare employs data and technology to drive patient outcomes.”

Outcome Health’s innovative model is based on aligning industry incentives to drive synergies amongst all healthcare stakeholders via patient-centric technology solutions that deliver measurable improvement in health outcomes.

“Outcome Health is redefining the way that the life sciences, payers, healthcare IT, physicians and patients interact,” said Todd Cozzens, co-founder and Managing Partner at Leerink Transformation Partners. “The technology enhances the most important event in the delivery of care – the trusted moments where the doctor and patient make decisions about their conditions and treatments – and represents innovation that we are proud to support. Doctors like Outcome Health’s platform because their patients have a better care experience, which leads to better compliance, adherence and most importantly, better outcomes.”

Outcome Health’s mission is to activate the best health outcome possible for every person in the world through technologies that change behavior to positively shape the human condition. The company serves health information and health intelligence during critical moments of care to enable patients and physicians to make the best healthcare decision possible. The company, founded in 2006 by Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, partners with 231,000 healthcare providers nationwide to impact 500 million patient visits annually.

Outcome Health has offices in Chicago and New York City, employing more than 600 people, and partners with large healthcare systems, private physician practices, medical associations, global life sciences companies as well as pharmacies and payers.

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Fourth-Gen Bata scion wants company to embrace digital world

Jun 7, 2017 0

By Kishori Sud

New Delhi– He’s young, he’s handsome and he wants to walk in his forefathers’ footsteps. Or step into their shoes.

Twenty-nine-year old Thomas Archer Bata is carrying on the legacy of the famed name and wants to quickly bring the brick and mortar stores company into the digital world. The global Chief Marketing Officer says he aims to ensure that a Bata shoe would be available to anyone, anywhere in the country — and eventually the world.

“It’s a big shift towards retail and digital. We believe firmly that distribution and the future will be heavily digitally-oriented. So, even if you are not going to the store to buy your shoe, you are going to be perhaps buying it online. The way the people are shopping, the brand needs to change,” the fourth-generation Bata scion told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the Bata fashion show here.

Bata has always been famous for its stores. They are present in almost every city in India, and in 75 other countries. The footwear multinational is run from its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, but, largely, each country works in a decentralised manner. All that may change if the effort to go digital worldwide in three years works out.

But it won’t be all digital, like e-commerce sites. Bata stores will still be around.

Thomas Archer Bata

The company was started by his great-grandfather, Tomas Bata, in his native town called Zlin in Southeast Moravia, 122 years ago. And for generations, shoes have been synonymous with Bata. The designing of the shoes is still mostly done in Europe, but it is manufactured in Italy, India, Indonesia and China. Globally, women form almost two-thirds of its clients, though in India men’s shoes outsell women’s.

The man who studied political science at the University of Edinburgh in England talks with passion about the science of footwear. The challenge, for him, is to ensure shoes offer both comfort and trendy designs.

“There is a conflict that exists in footwear that if a shoe looks good, it has to be uncomfortable and vice versa… We are trying to bridge that gap. We have big product development teams trying to figure that out everyday — ‘What is it about this shoe that makes it uncomfortable?’ so that we don’t have to compromise on either perceptions,” he said.

There are other challenges, he says — of shodding individuals with small feet or those with large ones.

“I’m aware of that problem. It is not actually terribly that simple to resolve. The solution that we are looking at is having those kind of collections online. I am a size 46, which is a eleven and half (UK size). I have very big feet, so it’s also quite difficult for me to buy shoes,” Archer Bata said.

“The solution we are looking at is to have some articles in small sizes in stores and have a wider selection available online. Unfortunately, because of capacity in the stores, it is not feasible to have every article in every size. If you don’t like it or have issues with the shoe you buy online, you can return it,” says Archer Bata who was born in Toronto and lives in the UK and Switzerland.

In India, Bata started in 1932 as a small operation in Konnagar, near Kolkata. From that, it has grown into the largest footwear retailer having some 1,200 outlets across the nation. It also has around 30,000 dealers.

Archer Bata, has thrown a challenge at the Indian company — of trying to reach a turnover of $1 billion (Rs 6,500 crore) by 2020 in annual sales — from Rs 2,450 crore in March 2016. That appears to be a tall order, even for a man with a footsize of 11-and-a-half. (IANS)

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Plagiarism is by-product of fashion industry: Anita Dongre

Jun 6, 2017 0

By Nivedita

New Delhi– Her designs are widely replicated by shop owners, and bought by those who want to ace their style quotient in an affordable way, but designer Anita Dongre feels plagiarism is a by-product of the fashion industry. However, she says a true fashionista will know how to spot what’s authentic.

“Plagiarism and knock-offs are by-products of the fashion industry,” Dongre, who has created a revolution with her brand House of Anita Dongre Limited (HOAD), told IANS in an interview.

“A good designer would never feel the need to replicate designs as the audience is extremely aware in this digital world. There is no shortcut to innovation and success, and this has stayed constant through the years. While plagiarism is greatly diluting fashion, true connoisseurs of fashion will know how to differentiate,” added Dongre.

HOAD Limited owns and operates three brands with three extremely distinct identities: AND — with its line of chic, contemporary western-wear for women; Global Desi — a young, free-spirited, vibrant line of boho-chic ensembles; and the Anita Dongre label offering breathtaking, curated looks in bridal, couture, pret, menswear.

This label also includes Pinkcity, handcrafted jadau jewellery and the recently-launched luxury pret label Grassroot which is a tribute to the handcrafted traditions of India, and seeks to revive, sustain and empower heirloom traditions from across the country and fashion them into contemporary tales.

Anita Dongre

Dongre, whose creation was famously flaunted by Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton on her India visit, enjoys working with artisans.

“This is a partnership of mutual respect. There is a skill and expertise that they have always brought to the bridal and couture looks, and with Grassroot, that expertise is carried to everyday looks.

“I work with artisans more closely through Grassroot, often in their homes, exchanging ideas about a new language for traditional crafts. I am inspired by the lives these artisans live, the crafts they have practised for generations and their respect for all living beings. They contribute not only to making my brands what they are, but also the person I am today,” the veteran designer said.

Her journey as an entrepreneur is an inspiration for many and she feels that being a woman was no advantage in achieving success.

“I don’t believe that it should be any different just because I am a woman. Irrespective of gender, our work demands creativity, commitment and efficiency, which I put in every single day. Fashion for me is about functionality and wearability.

“When I started this business, I was designing clothes that modern women wanted to see in their wardrobes. And today, the initial point of inspiration remains the same for every brand from the House of Anita Dongre. It is about making what today’s woman wants to buy and wear. It is the wearability of our garments that has made each brand successful,” said Dongre.

Over the years, HOAD has gone from strength to strength — embracing change, redefining fashion, setting trends and making a difference with over a 1,000 points of sale in India.

Asked how she sees the evolution of fashion from past to present, she said: “Fashion in the past was more inclusive and rested in the hands of a select few. These days it’s become highly competitive, hence the need to experiment and innovate in order to stand out from the rest.

“Numerous budding designers are being launched each year and only the best stand the chance to shine. It’s all about constant innovation and staying true to your aesthetics and design philosophy, and I believe change is the only constant.”

For her, Indian fashion is going in the right direction with government initiatives like Make in India and Handloom Week, which have given a great boost to sustainable fashion.

“We need more intervention for Indian designers who are supporting crafts to make it big on a global front,” she said. (IANS)

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Government’s top economist cautions over cattle slaughter ban

Jun 6, 2017 0

New Delhi–The government’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has sounded caution over the cattle slaughter ban, saying such policies could “adversely” impact the economics of livestock farming in India.

Addressing fellows of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) here on Monday evening, Subramanian said while the governments had the right to frame social policies but considering economic costs of such policies was also imperative.

“On dairy and livestock, two points are worth emphasizing. The governments have the right to choose their social policies. But in doing so, they must be fully aware of the economic costs of these policies.

“If social policies impede the workings of the livestock market, the impact on the economics of livestock farming could be considerable. These must be costed for appropriate choices to be made,” the economist said giving the foundation day lecture of the government-funded institute that conducts research in agriculture and allied sectors.

He stressed that the economics of livestock farming “must be recognised” also because “the fate and future of this source of livelihood will depend critically on the terminal value of … the no-longer-productive livestock.

“If social policies drive this terminal value precipitously down, private returns could be affected in a manner that could make livestock farming less profitable.”

Arvind Subramanian

Subramanian said the declining terminal value arises because of two factors — loss of income from livestock as meat and the additional costs to maintain an unproductive livestock.

“But there is more. It is possible that social policies could affect social returns even more adversely. Stray cattle, and a lot of it, will have to be looked after, otherwise diseases (like foot and mouth) could spread, leading to health hazards and social costs.”

He said Indians who under-consume proteins “to the detriment of their health” needed “both reduced cereal-centricity and at the same time promoting – not hindering – alternative sources of protein from pulses, dairy and livestock”.

The economist’s caution follows Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan’s comments that the government was alive to the concerns over the new rules governing cattle trade and slaughter.

The Environment Ministry last month notified its ban on the sale and purchase of livestock for slaughter in animal markets across the country, triggering widespread criticism. (IANS)

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Sonia, Manmohan attack government’s handling of economy

Jun 6, 2017 0

New Delhi–In a sharp attack on demonetisation, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday called it a “disaster” while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said latest GDP data showed India’s economic growth had slowed down sharply.

Speaking at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting here, Gandhi said the prediction of Manmohan Singh, an economist himself, that the demonetisation would slow down India’s economic growth had proved right.

Gandhi also said the government’s experiments and policies were characterised by poor planning and shoddy implementation.

Manmohan Singh

“They have been disastrous for our social and economic fabric. If we just look at demonetisation, which was touted as a great success, till today the government refuses to disclose how much of the demonetised currency in circulation was actually returned to the banks.

“It isn’t that the Reserve Bank of India has forgotten how to count money; it is that the actual numbers show that the scheme was a disaster. The recently released growth figures prove that Manmohan Singh’s forecast that demonetisation will slow down economic growth is correct,” Gandhi said.

The Congress chief said not just demonetisation but even the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Narendra Modi government had failed to create jobs or attract investment.

“Unemployment is rampant. Farmers across the country are in severe distress, forcing them to commit suicide. Manifesto promises that should have been fulfilled in 2019 are now being shifted to 2022,” she said.

Intervening in the discussion on the economic situation, Manmohan Singh said Gross Value Added (GVA), a true sub-measure of economic activity, had experienced a steep and sustained fall.

Sonia Gandhi

“Private sector investment has collapsed and the economy is running on just one engine of public spending. The GVA growth of industry has fallen from 10.7 per cent in March 2016 to just 3.8 per cent in March 2017, a decline of nearly seven percentage points of growth,” Singh said, referring to the Gross Domestic Product numbers for the fourth quarter as well as the entire 2016-17 fiscal released last week.

Manmohan Singh had attacked demonetisation in Parliament, describing it as a “monumental mismanagement” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder”. He had said it will drag the country’s GDP by 2 percentage points.

Singh told the CWC: “The most worrisome aspect of all this is the impact on job creation. Jobs have been extremely hard to come by for the youths. The construction industry — one of the largest employment generators in the country — has suffered a contraction. This implies loss of millions of jobs.”

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