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Global financial crisis in 2008 wasn't as serious as COVID-19, UPA govt should have handled with sincerity: FM Sitharaman

New Delhi: Stressing that the global financial crisis in 2008 wasn't as serious as the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the then Congress-led UPA government should have handled it with sincerity and transparency.
The White Paper compares the alleged economic management during 10 years of the Congress-led UPA government with the what the government says are the positive outcomes of 10 years of the BJP-ruled dispensation.
NK Premachandran of Congress and Saugata Roy of TMC moved substitute motions under rule 342 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business, saying the House disapproves the contents of the White Paper.
During her speech, Sitharaman said, "(The) 10 years of one government with some crises and 10 years of a different government with a different crisis, the comparison shown in this paper clearly says how if the government handles it with true sincerity, transparency and putting the nation first, the results are there for everybody to see."
She said, "Equally when you don't put the nation first, when you put your first family first and when you have other considerations, then the results are there for you to see."
"Two examples should be taken. The global financial crisis after 2008 wasn't as serious as COVID-19. Still, I would want to say that it was a crisis and the government should have handled it with sincerity and transparency," Sitharaman said.
She said during the global financial crisis, whatever should have been done to protect India's interest, was not done.
"But even after that, scandals continued, leaving the country in such a critical state. God only knows, if the government had continued, what would have been the condition of this country today," the Finance Minister said.
While the sloganeering continued from the Opposition Benches, Sitharaman, in a response to it, said, "This is a serious document, I am reiterating that it has serious topics. It must be taken seriously."
The nearly 60-page White Paper was tabled in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha by Sitharaman on Thursday.
The White Paper alleged that the UPA government abandoned reforms after coming to power in 2004 and that it failed to build on the strong foundation laid by the previous BJP-led NDA government.
The White Paper said that there were scandals in defence which compromised defence preparedness and the government delayed the acquisition of weapons.
"In the UPA government, decision-making came to a standstill due to corruption and scandals in defence, compromising defence preparedness. The government delayed the acquisition of artillery and anti-aircraft guns, fighters, submarines, night fighting gear and a host of equipment upgrades," the report said.
It also referred to the "coal scam", saying allocation of coal blocks was done on "arbitrary basis".
"The coal scam shook the conscience of the nation in 2014. Before 2014, the allocation of coal blocks was done on an arbitrary basis without following a transparent process to allocate the blocks. The coal sector was excluded from competition and transparency and the sector lacked investments and efficiencies. These actions were scrutinised by investigation agencies, and in 2014, the Supreme Court of India cancelled the allocation of 204 coal mines/blocks allocated since 1993," the paper said.
It said controversies such as 2G spectrum scam, coal gate scam and the Common Wealth Games (CWG) reflected poorly on India's image as an investment destination.

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