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Country could be passing through recession: Economist Abhijit Banerjee

Abhijit Banerjee, during an address at the Kolkata Literary Meet, also said the priority of the government should be on refinancing the banking sector, which is in ‘doldrums’.

SNS | New Delhi |

As the central government continues to battle the dipping economy and with union budget due in a few days, Nobel laureate and economist Abhijit Banerjee on Monday said the country could be passing through a phase of recession, and there is “nothing in the data” that suggests otherwise.

Abhijit Banerjee, during an address at the Kolkata Literary Meet, also said the priority of the government should be on refinancing the banking sector, which is in “doldrums”.

“What I can say is that we could be in a recession. But, I don’t know how much. There is nothing in the data that suggests we could not be in a recession,” the author of ”Good Economics for Hard Times” said.

He also advocated the imposition of wealth tax and more redistribution. “Given the current state of inequality in India, a wealth tax is completely sensible. In such a case, more redistribution is required, and I expect this not to happen soon,” Abhijit Banerjee said.

The 58-year-old Indian-American economist said the banking and infrastructure sectors were in need of funding from the government.

“The banking sector is in the doldrums. It needs huge funding from the government. The Centre should also look at infrastructure sector funding,” he said. Talking about the informal sector, the Nobel laureate said there is no reliable data on it. “The statistical apparatus is incapable of capturing short-term data on the informal sector.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor also favoured the central government’s move to privatise PSUs like Air India. On the recent cut in corporate taxes by the government, he said, “It seems the corporate sector is sitting on huge cash”.