Govt, Oppostion trade barbs on the second anniv of demonetisation

On the second anniversary of the central government’s demonetisation drive on Thursday, the Congress party criticised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre’s move by calling it a ‘black day’ for Indian democracy and economy.

Posting a strong defence of demonetisation, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the note ban had impacted in formalising the economy. “As we complete two years of demonetisation today, it has been established that demonetisation, a key step in a chain of important decisions taken by the Government, had a huge impact in formalising the economy,” Jaitley wrote in a blog.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh asserted that the exercise which the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government undertook in 2016 was ill-fated and ill-thought.

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Underlining that the havoc unleashed on the Indian economy and society due to demonetisation was evident to all stratas of people, he said in a statement: “Today marks the second anniversary of the ill-fated and ill-thought demonetisation exercise that the Narendra Modi government undertook in 2016. 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.”

“It is often said that time is a great healer. But unfortunately, the scars and the wounds of demonetisation are only getting more visible with time. Beyond the steep drop in headline GDP growth numbers after demonetisation, the deeper ramifications of notebandi are still unraveling.”

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On November 8, 2016, the Centre had declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as non-legal and introduced new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. Since then, various opposition leaders have highly criticised the Centre’s move, while the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have backed the decision.

“The Government first targeted the black money outside India. Asset holders were asked to bring it back on payment of penal tax, on failure to do so they are being prosecuted under the Black Money Act,” he said.

Singh said that small and medium businesses that are the cornerstone of India’s economy are yet to recover from the demonetisation shock, adding that the note ban has had a direct impact on employment as the economy continues to struggle to create enough new jobs for the youth.

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“The financial markets are volatile as the liquidity crisis wrought by demonetisation is taking its eventual toll on infrastructure lenders and non-bank financial services firms. We are yet to understand and experience the full impact of the demonetisation exercise. With a depreciating currency and rising global oil prices, macro-economic headwinds are also starting to blow now,” he stressed.

“It is therefore prudent not to resort to further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that can cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets,” he added. Singh urged the central government to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies. “Today is a day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and understand that economic policy making should be handled with thought and care,” Singh underscored.

The Congress party called it a ‘black day’ today to mark the second anniversary of demonetisation, according to sources. Last year, too, the Congress and other opposition parties protested at various places across the country against the central government’s drive.

“The cost and destruction by demonetisation was endured by every citizen of this country other than few crony capitalist friends of Prime Minister Modi. Demonetisation was a black day for our democracy and our economy,” read a post on the official Twitter handle of the Congress party.

Resonating similar sentiments, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also took to the micro-blogging site and wrote, “#DarkDay Today is the second anniversary of #DeMonetisation disaster. From the moment it was announced I said so. Renowned economists, common people and all experts now all agree.”

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The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote about the benefits of demonetisation on his Facebook page “Today we complete two years after demonitisation. Demonitisation is a key step in a chain of important decisions taken by the Government to formalise the economy. The Government first targeted the black money outside India. 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.”

Last year, too, the Congress and other opposition parties protested at various places across India against the central government’s drive.

“Two years ago,a disaster struck India’s economy. So much so that the PM has now stopped speaking about demonetisation after ruining lives of ordinary citizens. History will remember this day as a black day. When you caste your vote for Lok Sabha-never forget notebandi,” tweeted Congress leader Ahmed Patel.

On November 8, 2016, the Centre had declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as non-legal and introduced new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes.

Since then, various opposition leaders have highly criticised the Centre’s move, while the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have backed the decision.

(With ANI inputs)

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