Former prime minister Manmohan Singhargued the opposition's case, claiming that not only was demonetisation a flawed decision that had caused a needless disruption to the Indian economy, but it also risked unleashing harassment by tax sleuths probing illegal deposits.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday in an interview with the press over demonetization and GST said that "the impact of demonetization on the weaker sections of our society and business is far more damaging than any economic indicator can reveal". While opposition parties have made a decision to observe Wednesday as a "black day", the BJP has dubbed it "anti-black money day".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 8 Nov 2016 at the strike of midnight had announced that the currency note of 1000 and 500 will no longer be legal in India. Making a powerful defence of the exercise on the eve of one year of demonetisation, Jaitley said reform initiatives taken by the BJP-led government had lifted India's stature in the global economy, the measures preventing it from being knocked off the global radar and raising it to a position where all worldwide agencies have been eulogising the structural reforms.
Responding to critics of demonetisation, the Finance Minister said his government did not claim that note ban will put an end to corruption once for all, but it was certain that reducing the circulation of cash in the system had made indulging in corruption a very hard proposition. "I wondered who advised him to inflict such a reckless step on our nation, and whether any considered thought went into it", he said. Economics should take precedence over politics. 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. "I repeat, it was organised loot and legalised plunder", Singh said, referring to a similar statement in Parliament previous year. "Nowhere in the world any democracy has taken such a coercive step". They had broken the back of small businesses in States like Gujarat. He said structural reforms like the note ban would have consequences.
Demonetisation has proved to be a mere bluster to reap political dividends, while the real offenders have escaped, the former Prime Minister states.
"Measures such as demonetisation and greater digitization of transactions in the economy, introduction of the goods and service tax, linking of most financial transactions with Aadhaar are all steps which will greatly improve transparency, compliance and tax buoyancy", said Sudhir Kapadia, national tax leader, EY India.
'We saw the impact of demonetisation on the economy when the GDP growth rate dropped to 5.7 per cent under the new calculations. Even this is underestimated as the pain of the informal sector has not even been calculated, he added. Every one percent loss of GDP annually costs our nation 1.5 lakh crore rupees. "Instead of providing relief, as I had requested in the Parliament, the government chose to inflict on them a badly designed and hastily implemented GST".
Trinamul Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also hit out at the government, saying demonetisation was a big scam.
Citing statistics and examples, the former PM pointed out that the UPA's GST envisoned a single tax capped at 18%, while the current one has transformed it into a "complicated mess with multiple slabs".
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