Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday said the Centre should give the direct cash transfer benefit to labourers, poor people and farmers to increase their spending capacity and boost the economy.
Addressing a press conference here, the senior Congress leader took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent speech at a CII event where the latter said the country will definitely get its growth back.
"If the prime minister is confident that the growth will be back, the people of the country should know how is it possible," said Chavan, whose party is an alliance partner of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government.
"Of the current stimulus package of Rs 20 lakh crore (announced by the Centre), only a meagre percentage has been allocated for direct cash transfer benefits, which is not sufficient," he said.
If people are not helped with direct cash transfers, their livelihoods will be affected, industries will be closed, and if this situation continues, there will be an issue of law and order, he claimed.
"Print the notes, take loans, do whatever you want, but put the money into people's pockets to improve their spendings," Chavan said.
Prime Minister Modi thinks the government will bring the economy on the path of growth in this financial year, but on the other hand, some of the international credit rating agencies are saying there will be a "downturn for the first time in the last 40 years of India's economy," he said.
"There will not be any growth, but due to COVID-19, there will be negative growth," Chavan said quoting credit rating agencies.
He said several international agencies and the RBI governor have forecast negative growth for India's economy, but only "one person is saying exactly the opposite".
International credit rating agency Moody's recently downgraded India's credit rating, Chavan noted.
"They (agencies) said the rating was not downgraded because of COVID-19 pandemic, but because how the economy was handled in last one year. They said the downgrade started happening right from demonetisation and GST implementation," he pointed out.
This shows that in the last six years, "the growth of Indian economy plummeted under the leadership of Modi", the Congress leader claimed.
To steer the economy out of the current crisis, the government should pay directly to people, including the poor, employees, farmers, landless farmers, so that their spending capacity will increase, Chavan said.
"Currently, people do not have the spending capacity. The industries are in great crisis. A number of economic experts say the government should start direct cash payments to these people," he said.
This is not impractical as the US, the UK and some developing countries are giving direct cash transfer benefits to people, he said.
Asked about Defence Minister Rajnath Singh criticising the Maharashtra government, Chavan said he should rather talk about his own responsibilities.
"He should talk about what is happening in Ladakh, he should talk about the presence of Chinese forces in the region," he said.