Business Standard

Feature: Three years of UPA: not much to cheer

While state governments such as Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are celebrating, the UPA government is not exactly in a party mood

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa celebrated her one year in power by spending Rs 25 crore in advertisements to highlight her achievements. Even Mamata Banerjee organised a celebration, despite not having much to show.

While state governments are celebrating, the government, which completes its third year of second term in the centre, is not exactly in a party mood.

If anything, the second innings of the government have been spent largely in ducking from one to another. The sum and substance of all the allegations on the government has resulted in policy paralysis. As a report on CNN-IBN says that the Prime Minister’s Office had to send repeated reminders to ministers to send their list of achievements to shore up its report card, speaks volumes about the difficulties of counting them.

The lack of governance has resulted in a weakening of a number of economic indicators. The value of the currency, which also highlights the economic strength of an economy, has touched its lowest level ever in UPA’s second term. Though Finance Minister has passed on the blame to the euro crisis and money being pulled out of developing countries, Shankar Acharya, former chief economic adviser to the government in a column in Business Standard has pointed out that the real cause of the rupee’s weakness is the relentless deterioration in our economic policies in recent years. A falling is simply a symptom of the underlying disease: unsound economic policies.

The stock market, which hit the upper circuit, after the UPA was elected for the second time in a row, is now in its worst phase since the Lehman crisis.

We present a report card of the government’s performance over the last three years.

Hits:
•    Survived in power, despite facing some of the worst crisis by any elected government 
•    Record road projects of 7,300 km expected to be awarded
•    Asked coal ministry to supply coal to power plants commissioning by 2015, thus ending a deadlock
•    Announcement of introduction of GAAR
•    Widened the tax bracket

Policy clearance awaited:
•    Goods and Services Tax Bill
•    Direct Tax Code Bill
•    Land Acquisition Bill
•    Companies Bill
•    Insurance Bill
•    Pension Bill
•    Clear Environment Policy

Misses
•    National Counter Terrorism Centre
•    Food Security Bill
•    Lok Pal Bill
•    FDI in retail
•    Telangana issue

Scams
•    Telecom scam
•    Commonwealth Games
•    Adarsh Housing Society
•    Corruption in Defence Deals

Economic Indicators
•    Rupee near all time low
•    Current account deficit to touch 4%
•    Growth rate expected to fall below 6% from a high of 9% in March 2010
•    Fiscal deficit expected to be near 5.5%
•    High inflation and interest rates
•    Poor FDI and FII inflow

Thus, looking at UPA’s performance, there’s little to cheer about.

Though the government is planning a dinner with its allies to celebrate the occasion, it is expected to be a quiet one. Lok Sabha member Bhartruhari Mahtab of BJD summed it up well in the Daily Pioneer when he said: "Do you see a smile on anybody’s face. Leave aside the common man, even the faces of ministers are crestfallen."

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