Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today likened the demonetisation drive of 2016 to a celebration of honesty, saying honest taxpayers receieved the move to tame black money as ‘Imandari Ka Utsav’.

There has been a huge increase in the number of returns filed by taxpayers, Jaitley said while presenting the Budget 2018–19 in Parliament today. “We are enthused by this success of our measures and we pledge to continue to take all such measures in future by which the black money is contained and the honest taxpayers are rewarded. Demonetisation was received well by honest taxpayers as ‘Imandari ka Utsav’ only for this reason,” he said in his speech, the last full year budget of government before the general elections next year.

In 2016-17, there were 85.51 lakh new tax filers as against 66.26 lakh in the preceding fiscal year, he said. The number of effective tax payer base increased to 8.27 crore at the end of fiscal ended March 2017 from 6.47 crore at the beginning of 2014-15, he said further. The BJP-led government had came to power in May 2014.

Many benefits

The finance minister said the Indian economy is getting more formalised post note ban as more and more transactions now happen digitally. “Benefits to the poor have been targeted more effectively with use of digital technology. Demonetisation of high value currency has reduced the quantum of cash currency and circulation in India,” he said. “It has increased the taxation base and spurred greater digitisation of the economy,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an address to the nation through television on November 8, 2016, announced phasing out of old Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes from the system to tame black money.

“Massive formalisation of the businesses of MSMEs is taking place in the country after demonetisation and introduction of GST. This is generating enormous financial information database of MSMEs’ businesses and finances,” Jaitley said.