Anand Sharma, Congress MP and deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, on Saturday said the government’s currency withdrawal decision has turned the “economy into a shutdown mode” with jobs being lost across the country and businesses facing severe slowdown. While the Congress is in favour of any step taken by the government to curb black money, the implementation of the currency withdrawal “move has been a disaster”, Sharma said at the annual general meeting of industry chamber Ficci.
“Have you ever seen 57 notifications of the Reserve Bank of India (since November 8); it’s like somebody is not able to decide for days and days what to wear and what to eat. The narrative is being changed on a daily basis…it’s great planning, great clarity,” Sharma said, referring to various circulars and clarifications that the RBI has issued post the government’s decision to withdraw old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 from circulation.
He said the move has failed to achieve any of the stated objectives of eliminating black money, corruption, counterfeit currency and terror financing. “There is a financial anarchy in India today. India’s economy is in a shutdown mode,” Sharma said, adding that people are losing jobs in cities across India such as Surat, Ludhiana, Panipat as businesses have been severely hit due to slowdown.
“Besides, sullying India’s image global, (the decision) has destroyed people’s trust in the banking system,” he said, adding that even in Parliament MPs are not able to withdraw Rs 24,000 rationed limits set by the government on cash withdrawal from bank accounts.
He said the whole act of demonetisation of currency is giving wrong signals to the global market and it is appearing as if the whole Indian economy was based on black money. All this has led to disruption in weekly wages, slower growth and left the economy gasping, he said. A total of 111 people have died due to currency shortage, he added.
Sharma added that the government has no legal right to extinguish the currency through an executive order, and such a decision is against the provisions of the Constitution which protect people’s right to property, including citizens being able to access their bank accounts. He said decisions taken by the government have to be wise first and bold later. “Decisions have to be first wise decisions, decisions have to be well thought out decisions,” he said.
He said that reforms are an ongoing process and this started way back in 1950s, with successive Congress governments pursuing major reforms in India’s manufacturing, services particularly in the information technology & communications and telecom. He said that it was under the Congress-led government between 2004 and 2014 that the GDP of India rose from $ 480 billion to over $ 2.1 trillion in a span of 10 years. It was under the UPA government that policies such as RTI, Money Laundering Act and Whistle Blower Bill were launched, he said.