Months of meetings before note ban: Jaitley

Months of meetings before note ban: Jaitley

 Demonetisation was not an easy decision for the government and it took several months and a number of closed-door meetings to decide on the note ban, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.

He urged the Opposition not to make farmers an excuse to promote black money.
Jaitley said the decision on demonetisation was bound to have some short-term impact on perishable commodities and luxury goods but would not have much impact on agricultural output, which was going to increase this year when compared with 2016.

“Decision on the largest currency replacement exercise of the world was not easy to take. The Reserve Bank of India was working on it since May 2016. Both RBI and the government had held  innumerable closed-door meetings. At one stage, the meetings used to take place every week,” Jaitley said, replying to the discussion on the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill.

The Demonetisation Bill was later passed by voice vote.
The Bill replaced an earlier ordinance on the note ban. With the passage of the Bill, possession of more than 10 pieces of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has become a punishable offence. The Bill also provides for a minimum fine of Rs 50,000 for a false declaration by a person that he or she was abroad during the demonetisation period (November 9 to December 30) and taken time to deposit the banned notes till March 31 this year.

Jaitley said it was due to India’s overdependence on the  cash economy and related evils that the government was not able to collect as much taxes as it should. “The cash economy has polluted every stream of the system. Because of the cash economy, the taxes we are getting are minuscule,” he said.

On Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s charge that farmers were suffering due to a cash crunch, the minister said, “Please stop taking farmers’ recourse to justify black money”.

“The whole country was patient. Only one who had problems was the Opposition, not the people,” the finance minister said, seeking cooperation of all parties in the “important reform”.

Replying to Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s charge that tourism and manufacturing had suffered, Jaitley said in December air traffic to India has risen from earlier.

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