NEW DELHI: Two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the demonetisation scheme, both the central government and the opposition highlighted the benefits and ills of the note-ban move.
While finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the scheme helped “formalise” the Indian economy, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the scars of the “ill-fated” and “ill-thought” exercise are only getting more visible with time and the country is yet to understand the exercise’s full impact.
In a Facebook blog, the finance minister said that the scheme helped the government target black money outside India and technology was used to facilitate the filing of returns and expanding the tax base.
“Asset holders were asked to bring this money back on payment of penal tax. Those who failed to do so are being prosecuted under the Black Money Act. Details of all accounts and assets abroad which have reached the Government resulted in action against the violators,” he wrote.
On the other hand, former PM Singh said the “havoc” of demonetisation is now evident to everyone.
“The havoc that it unleashed on the Indian economy and society is now evident to everyone. Notebandi impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed,” Singh said in a statement.
Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Press Statement on two years of Demonetisation & the devastating impact it had & con… https://t.co/3cPcKSvAQr
— Congress (@INCIndia) 1541654416000
Two years ago, on this day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprising move had declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as non-legal and introduced new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. The Congress is observing the second anniversary as a ‘black day’ and several other opposition leaders have held PM Modi’s decision responsible for “crippling” the economy.
Arguing in the defence of the exercise, the finance minister wrote that a major benefit of the demonetisation exercise was that it enabled the financial inclusion of the weaker section.
“Jan Dhan Accounts have resulted in most people being connected to the banking system,” he added.
In his blog, Jaitley also focussed on busting the “misconceived argument” that the exercise resulted in almost the entire cash money getting deposited in banks.
“Confiscation of currency was not an objective of Demonetisation. Getting it into the formal economy and making the holders pay tax was the broader objective,” he clarified.
The minister also underlined the effect demonetisation had on digitisation of the economy.
“Visa and Mastercard are losing market share in India to indigenously developed payment system of UPI and RUPAY Card whose share have reached 65% of the payments done through debit and credit cards,” the minister said as he quoted data showing spike in cashless transactions on indigenous mobile apps.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too slammed the central government for cheating the nation with the note-ban “scam”.
Calling it a dark day, Banerjee tweeted: “The government cheated our nation with this big #Demonetisation scam. It ruined the economy and the lives of millions. People will punish those who did this.”
#DarkDay Today is the second anniversary of #DeMonetisation disaster. From the moment it was announced I said so. R… https://t.co/ZGvqirKPqd
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) 1541640665000
The Congress party had earlier announced that it will observe a ‘black day’ to mark the second anniversary of demonetisation. Last year, too, the Congress and other opposition parties protested at various places across India against the central government’s drive.
Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said demonetisation and GST reflect long-term vision of the government and its ability to undertake massive structural reforms, PTI reported.
“Tax filers under both direct and indirect taxes are close to getting doubled. Digital payments have risen sharply and become common place. Fake notes are out,” Garg tweeted.
Demonetisation and GST reflect long term vision of the Government and its ability to undertake massive structural r… https://t.co/Zs8wBE0xvF
— Subhash Chandra Garg (@SecretaryDEA) 1541658155000