Wrong to link exports dip and PM Modi’s foreign visits: Nirmala Sitharaman

New delhi(PTI): Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday rejected Congress’ charge of falling exports despite Prime Minister’s ‘frequent’ foreign trips, saying his visits have removed the “blot” of corruption and “misgovernance” during the earlier government.

Nirmala Sitharaman

She said Congress was wrong in linking up the two issues as exports have fallen because of dip in demand globally and negative growth rate in some of the major consuming nations. “With the Prime Minister going abroad and projecting what India truly stands for and simultaneously doing things (reforms) here…(that) has removed that ‘kalank’,” Sitharaman told PTI in an interview here. The country’s image and standing as an attractive investment destination had suffered because of misgovernance and the Supreme Court’s cancelling 122 coal mine allocations in one go on charges of misconduct, she said, while adding that these issues gave a “thrashing to India’s image”.

“I think Congress party should be a bit more cautious before commenting on these matters and if your image is thrashed and hit rock-bottom”, it will not serve India’s economy, she said. Congress had earlier this week taunted that India’s exports have dropped by a whopping 45 per cent despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi making 30 foreign visits in 18 months. “Exports are suffering because of various reasons… I think, the Prime Minister is doing a big service to this nations’ image by restoring it… India’s image now stands at one of the very best and it is sort after an investment destination,” Sitharaman said.

She said the quantum of exports has not fallen drastically but the currency depreciation is yielding lower revenue for same volume of sale. “So the same quantity of exports, you are earning far less,” she said, adding that the slump in crude oil prices has meant that rates of finished product or fuel, which was the second biggest export grosser for India, too have dipped along. Also, commodity prices have fallen globally.
She said that Congress party should do a bit more homework before they comment on these matters.

The Prime Minister’s visits have changed the image of India, which was completely thrashed and beaten before May 2014, she said. Sitharaman said that exports are declining due to various reasons including slowdown in global demand and dip in commodity prices worldwide. India’s exports remained in the negative territory for the 11th month in a row, registering a dip of 17.53% in October to US $21.35 billion, due to a demand slowdown, while trade deficit showed an improvement.