Financial Times has done a story and is quite critical of Man Mohan Singh and P Chidambaram about their failure to pursue reforms in the past 5 years. Except for the opening up of skies for private airlines, the Congress govt. has done nothing in terms of opening up of the economy, it says. The article praises ex prime ministers, Narsimha Rao and Vajpayee for their bold initiatives in reforming the economy.
Here is what the articles says:
There have been practically no market reforms since 2004, save for the opening of domestic civil aviation. Nothing has moved on privatisation, the reduction of government equity in banks and insurance companies, pensions, competition regulation or the administration of subsidies. Industrial tariffs have come down, but otherwise external protection has not been reduced. India remains the most protectionist large emerging market.
Worse, there has been reform backsliding and reversal. Fiscal restraint, written into law in 2003, has been thrown to the winds. Now, with an economic downturn, the consolidated government deficit is projected to rise above 10 per cent of gross domestic product. Funding for much-needed infrastructure projects will suffer. Controlled pricing of petroleum products was reintroduced in 2008. Off-budget expenditure has increased significantly, especially through populist measures to support rural employment and the energy sector.
The article is quite critical of Mr. Singh. It says:
But Mr Singh has proved a hopeless decision-maker as prime minister. Sadly, he proves the rule that academics should generally be “on tap” but not “on top”.
I, for one do not subscribe to the views of the writer. One should not expect fiscal reforms in these tough times. The article seems to be advocating reforms for the sake of reforms! What do you say?