Peoples Parliament: Economy was unwell even before the pandemic, needs new thinking to recover
Renowned economists, entrepreneurs, politicians and others come together to throw light on various facets of the current state of the economy and possible ways out.
19 August 2020: The Janta Parliament today held a session on the economy. There was participation, among others, by economists, such as Prabhat Patnaik and C. P. Chandrashekar , and politicians like Dr. T. M. Thomas Isaac, the Finance Minister of Kerala and Sitaram Yechury.
Thomas Isaac spoke about fiscal federalism and how the centre was undermining states’ autonomy by making access to funds conditional to adoption of certain policy measures. Prabhat Patnaik and C. P. Chandrashekar underscored that the way out of the current crisis would be to increase demand by putting money in people’s hands and increasing their spending power. They also said that the government’s solution to fix this problem was misguided as it attempted to increase production and supply through access to credit and dilution of labour laws. It was suggested that the government must levy wealth and inheritance taxes to raise funds and provide universal public services, such as rations, health, education and employment.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta talked about crony capitalism and corporate corruption and how this affects much more than just the economy and undermines democracy in India. K. E. Raghunathan , Managing Director, Solkar Solar Industry Ltd, an entrepreneur, gave a passionate testimony of the trials and tribulations faced by businessmen since the lockdown. Thomas Franco of the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) elaborated on how the various measures taken by the government in the banking sector are weakening the foundations of the financial institutions in India. Pooja Parvati , Country Manager of International Budget Partnership’s (IBP), gave an overview of the various budgetary commitments that the government has reneged on.
Lakshminarayan LAN , IIM alumni and former Chief Strategy Officer at Wipro’s IT Business, presented the perspective of the corporates. He said that even though the media was making a big deal of the fact that some industries have now reached 80 – 90% of last year’s production, it is still a 10 – 20% degrowth. He estimated that there would be a 5 – 10% contraction in the economy and warned that it would not be easy to get out of the present
economic crisis. Prof. Ritu Dewan gave an overview of the plight of migrants workers during the last few months and also spoke about the various ordinances of state governments to relax labour laws.
At the end of the discussion, the House adopted several resolutions. One of such resolution urged the government to bring back development banks for large scale lending purposes allowing scheduled commercial banks to focus on retail lending only. A resolution asking for release of information on money collected under PMCARES and its distribution among state governments was also passed. Yet another resolution encouraged the government to impose 2% wealth tax along with inheritance tax on top 1% wealthy people.
The session was presided over by Joe Athialy of the Centre for Financial Accountability.
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