Manmohan, Jaitley train guns at each other over demonetization

Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday trained guns at each other over the demonetisation.

After Manmohan Singh launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Ahmedabad, Gujarat; Jaitley criticised the Congress and Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to demonetise 500- and 1000-rupee banknotes with an aim to weaken the black money or shadow economy in the country.

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Dr Manmohan Singh said demonetisation is not a desirable way of tackling black money.

He also termed demonetisation as a clear case of ‘organised loot and legalised plunder.’

“Nowhere in the world has any nation taken such a drastic step that swept off 86 percent of the currency. It has broken the back of our small businesses,” he said.

Replying former prime minister’s charge, Jaitley tore into the Congress over its continual condemnation of the Centre’s economic reforms.

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“The Congress never took any big step against black money. All that Manmohan Singh has to do is to compare the status of the Indian economy pre-2014 and post-2014. Pre-2014, the Indian economy was marred with policy paralysis, and today there is no agency that doesn’t hail the reforms taken in Indian economy by Singh,” Jaitley said while addressing the media in New Delhi.

The Finance Minister also said calling demonetisation loot is not justified but scams like 2G, CWG and coal blocks allocation during Manmohan Singh’s government were loot.

“The difference between the UPA and the NDA is policy paralysis and structural reform. Calling an ethical move like this a loot is not justified. Loot is one that took place in 2G, CWG and coal blocks allocation. As far as ethics are concerned, our point of view is different from that of the Congress. Their primary objective is to serve a family, and our objective is to serve the nation,” he continued his scathing attack on the grand old party.

Earlier in the day, the finance minister released a blog on demonetisation on his Facebook, wherein he said that November 8 would be remembered “as a watershed moment in the history of Indian economy”.

Manmohan Singh didn’t buy Jaitley’s claim and said, “What betterment the country has been seeing is yet to be known but we all know that the informal sector of the economy, which is responsible for the 90 percent of employment in our country, is in trouble. So, it is like kite flying, things will improve in future and present may go to hell. As I said in Parliament that in the long run we all are dead. If the country is to debate the use of demonetisation, it should do in present before it jumps into future.”

He further added that “even for the sake of argument if we say it had to be done then prior efforts should have been made to remonetise the currency printing and the ATM functions should have been improved drastically if the lives of the people who died had to be saved”.

The former prime minister also termed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as another blunder of the Modi government.

Critical of the GST, Dr. Singh said the tax reform broken the back of small businesses.

Cornering the government over increase in imports from China, Dr. Singh said because of the weak economic policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, New Delhi had to run for Chinese imports at the cost of Indian jobs.

The former prime minister said the Modi government didn’t pay any heed to the Congress’ advice on the implementation of the GST.

“Before launching the GST, the government should have run a dry run to have views of the informal sector, small traders before jumping into such a big reform effort without prior consultation,” Dr. Singh said.

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He further added that “our complaint is that what we told the government in private or in the Parliament was totally ignored”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi first termed the GST as a ‘good and simple tax’ on July 1, when it was launched at a gala event at the historic Central Hall of Parliament.

The GST is an indirect tax and is applicable throughout India. It replaced multiple cascading taxes levied by the central and state governments.

Under GST, goods and services are taxed at the following rates, 0 percent, 5 percent, 12 percent, 18 percent and 28 percent.

Dr Manmohan Singh also termed the NDA government’s plans to introduce a bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai as an exercise of vanity.

In September, Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe had launched the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.

India has pledged to build high-speed railways, focused on the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.


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