MIT economist Abhijit Banerjee flays govt for appointing Das as RBI governor; says 'be frightened' at possible governance outcomes

Mumbai: Indian-American economist Abhijit Banerjee on Tuesday flayed government for appointing retired bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das as the next Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor, and warned that the decision leaves a lot of 'frightening' questions about governance issues at key public institutions. The professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) made a strong pitch for strengthening the credibility of all key institutions like the Reserve Bank.

When asked about the appointment of Das, who oversaw the controversial demonetisation decision as the finance secretary, his first reaction was that we should be "frightened" at the possible governance outcomes. "Institutions exist, partly to give us forbearance, to say that 'even if I want it, I can't do it, my hands are tied.' We should tie our hands a bit more. But this is too
much untying," Banerjee added.

On Urjit Patel's sudden resignation on Monday, he said, "we should all worry if this is a sign of institutional stress". On the changes made to GDP computation to show a dip in growth during the UPA-era, he said Central Statistics Office has been doing important work for the last many decades and underscored the need to protect its credibility.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

Banerjee suggested an impartial person, preferably someone from outside, should be assigned the task of going through the changes and confirming if it meets the best-accepted practices.

Earlier, delivering the seventh C K Prahlad memorial lecture, he said the country will continue to grow at a faster clip for the next few years, not because of its inherent strengths, but because of misallocation of resources till now. He, however, said there is a need for growth to be higher than 7 percent, stating that it is fast turning into the new Hindu rate of growth, and warned that we risk falling into the middle-income trap if it continues at this rate.

Banerjee also expressed concerns on the current state of affairs, claiming he sees a political paralysis where the ideas are being good but there is a bit of trouble implementing them due to political reasons and lack of manpower within the government.

He also warned that the current state of affairs run the risk of the country slipping into a "civil war" or some strife because of the uneven growth.

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2018 08:06:05 IST

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