Manmohan Singh a ‘crashing disappointment’: FT Lex

July 10th, 2008 - 3:47 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

London, July 10 (IANS) A widely-read agenda-setting newspaper column in Britain has described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s four-year tenure as a “crashing disappointment”, with failure to roll out second generation economic reforms making India the worst-performing emerging market. “A distinguished economist and one-time finance minister, who became prime minister in May 2004 after Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi opted to wield power from behind the scenes, Singh has been a crashing disappointment,” said the Financial Times’ Lex column, read by some 1.3 million people around the world.

“Much of the blame for his failure to press ahead with much-needed structural reform has been laid, all too conveniently, at the door of the Left bloc,” said Lex, whose journalists have included former finance minister Nigel Lawson and several corporate leaders.

Lex said that Left opposition to privatisation and labour reform meant that India’s chances of matching China’s double-digit growth “have all but evaporated”.

“Inflation has surged to above 11 percent, twice the Reserve Bank of India’s comfort level; the public finances are in tatters; and the trade deficit is ballooning. The main stock market index is down 45 percent in dollar terms since January, making India the worst performing emerging market.”

Lex said although there was a “window of opportunity” for Manmohan Singh to push through reforms in the run up to the next general election “to make amends for four lost years”, the Congress was highly unlikely to take any tough decisions at this point in time.

“A new-found ally in the Samajwadi party may save the UPA in any confidence vote but investors are unlikely to thank it for doing so,” it added.

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