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Demonetisation anniversary: BJP, Congress set stage for a face-off
08 November 2017, 12:38 | Yvette Williams
Notes ban ushered in a black day for economy and democracy, : Manmohan Singh
Responding to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's criticism of demonetisation - Singh called it a "reckless" exercise - Jaitley said the move was contradictory to the "loot that happened in the second generation spectrum scam, Commonwealth Games and allocation of coal blocks". "This attitude of suspecting everyone to be a thief or an anti-national, this low level rhetoric is damaging to democratic discourse and as real consequences of how we relate to one another as citizens", Singh said. While opposition parties have chose to observe Wednesday as a "black day", the BJP has dubbed it "anti-black money day". "While denigrating the past, the PM also tends to exaggerate what he will do in the future".
The Finance Minister said one of the important objectives of demonetisation was "to make India a less-cash economy and thereby reduce the flow of black money in the system".
"The fight against corruption and the anti-black money drive is an ethical and moral step taken by the government".
While addressing the traders and businessmen in Ahmedabad on Tuesday morning, Manmohan Singh said that he was shocked to hear the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 Nov past year and was thinking who could have suggested him to take such a reckless step. The economist-politician Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday morning reached the poll-bound Gujarat to touch upon various aspects related to note ban as well as the implementation of GST and its impact on the economy. He said it has met its objective of reducing cash in the economy, ending anonymity of cash, bringing more individuals into the tax net and dealing a body blow to black money. "The twin blows of demonetisation and GST have affected Indian economy", said Singh, citing figures to explain how imports from China have increased tremendously in the last fiscal. "It had been suggested many times in the past as well, but as a responsible government we never took such a drastic measure", he said. "Nowhere in the world any democracy has taken such a coercive step". "The fact that more than 99 percent of the demonetised currency came back into the banking system has punctured the government's claims", he further added.
Hours after the former Prime Minister's speech, Finance Minister Jaitley strongly defended the economic reforms calling note ban a "watershed moment in the history of the Indian economy". "Less cash in the system may not end corruption but makes corruption hard", he said, claiming terror funding had been "squeezed" after demonetisation. Even this is underestimated as the pain of the informal sector has not even been calculated, he added.
A fierce demonetization critique, Singh will fly to Ahmedabad to hold a media conference to speak on India's economy.
"Did the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) stop to consider the wisdom of the Mahatma while asking the RBI Governor to sign on the dotted line [for demonetisation], or while implementing the GST in haste?" Compliance requirements have become a nightmare for small businesses.
Comparing the escalating rise in India's imports from China, Singh said the country's import in first half of 2016-17 was worth Rs 1.96 lakh crore, whereas in 2017-18 it increased to Rs 2.41 lakh crore. He wondered if raising questions about bullet trains made one anti-development or questioning GST or demonetisation made one a tax evader.
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