Demonetisation effect: FinMin says fake currency routed out of the system

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 31, 2017


'Economy to benefit in medium and long term'

Taking on critics who have questioned the note ban exercise after latest data by the Reserve Bank of India on currency, the Finance Ministry on Thursday said that fake currency was actually routed out of the system and old notes will now no longer be permitted to be returned.

“Rs 16,000 crore of currency is still out of the banking system,” said Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, adding that there is no way that the demonetised currency notes can now be returned.

2 relevant facts

He also said that two relevant facts must be kept in mind regarding fake currency. “Despite the rush to exchange demonetised notes, the system was careful not to bring fake currency into the system,” he said.

He also argued that fake currency was actually routed out of the system. “This has had a positive impact on curbing terrorist activities in places like Kashmir,” he told reporters.

The government had demonetised old series Rs 500 notes and Rs 1,000 notes in November last year to curb black money and fake currency notes.

In the first official data on how much of the currency was returned into the banking system, the Reserve Bank of India had on Wednesday in its annual report had said that 99 per cent or Rs 15.28 lakh crore of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore of the junked notes were returned.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the objective of demonetisation was also to make a shift from the predominantly high cash economy.

“The fallout of demonetisation is on predicted lines ...the fact that money got deposited in banks doesn’t make it legitimate money,” he had said.

PTI reports:

The Reserve Bank of India, which had so far shied away from revealing how much of junked currency came back to system post the November 8 note ban decision, had in its annual report yesterday said banks have received Rs 15.28 lakh crore, or 99 per cent of the currency invalidated.

According to submissions by its lawyers in the Supreme Court, the government had initially estimated about Rs 5 lakh crore would not come back into the banking system as holders of unaccounted money may find it difficult to deposit them in banks — the only source allowed for getting rid of old currency.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said despite the pain associated with demonetisation, the country was ready for this kind of change.

“It’s nobody’s case that the black money has totally been eliminated. There are still people who will be doing such transactions. But, I think, a large amount of that has come in,” he said.

Speaking at the Economist India Summit here, Jaitley termed as a “very narrow vision” to consider just the dent in RBI’s profit due to printing of new currency as the cost of demonetisation.

“When the demonetisation was initially announced there was an element of uncertainty. There has not been many such experiments world over and therefore it is natural that there will be speculation as to how much money will come back,” he said.

The banned notes formed 86 per cent of the currency in circulation at that time. Holders of old notes were given a 50-day window to deposit them in banks.

“As the demonetisation progressed and the monies were deposited, it was quite clear that people have found ways and means, legitimately or otherwise, to get the money into the banking system irrespective of the consequences they will face later.

“It was clear that overwhelmingly large amount of money had come back into the banking system, something which was not of great consequences to us in the government,” he said.

The Finance Minister said it is quite obvious that people found the ways and “I think it did shake the system.”

But “the fact that money has got into the banking system doesn’t mean that they are legitimate money. Or the monies have got legitimately converted,” he said.

Depositing money in bank accounts had ended their anonymity.

“It means that the anonymity around the money which was otherwise floating in the system has come to an end. The money got identified with the owner. And henceforth he was fixed with explaining the liability of the money,” he said.

Jaitley said the fallout of demonetisation was on predicted lines as “more and more people will now be compelled to come into the tax net.”

This was evident from the rise in personal income tax as well as collections from the GST, which compelled transactions to be brought within tax net, he said.

Asked if demonetisation was good for the country, he said it was good for Indian citizens as they could not have lived indefinitely with an economy that was fastest growing in the world and yet had different colours of money.

When the anchor asked those present in the hall to vote if they agreed that demonetisation was good, a majority of them said yes.

Jaitley said despite the pain, the move had mass backing. “I had a supportive voter immediately after the ...(demonetisation),” Jaitley said, apparently referring to BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh state elections in March 2017.

On the cost associated with note ban, he said the status quo of a parallel economy running could not have been allowed to go on indefinitely.

“In the third quarter (of 2016-17 fiscal), when demonetisation took place, GDP wasn’t substantially impacted. We had anticipated that one or two quarters could be impacted but the larger impact is you have 25 per cent more people filing income tax returns.

“Therefore when you say you spent money on printing of currency you have a very narrow vision ... currency replacement takes place even in normal course. If you hadn’t been printing new currency but printing old currency. This is a kind of trifling argument,” he said.

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Published on August 31, 2017
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