Union minister for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that the objective of the demonetisation was as much to make the economy more digitised as it was to make it cleaner.
Speaking at the Express IT Awards, Sitharaman said it was the government’s intention to unearth black money and at the same time to familiarise people with smartphones and encourage them to make digital payments.
Sitharaman concurred with the conclusions of the expert panel on how digital India offered solutions to many of the bigger problems normally associated with India – such as an inadequate number of teachers, doctors and so on.
“India’s digital prowess will strengthen the economy. India cannot become a superpower with 50 per cent of the economy running on cash. This large, bold and historic initiative was taken by the prime minister keeping in mind the long-term economic future of India, and the soft power that it can create,” Sitharaman observed while delivering the keynote address.
The minister asserted that all the sums that flowed back into the banks would not be treated as white.
“Not all money that comes back into the system would be seen to be clean. If the amount does not reconcile with the acceptable levels of incomes of the account holders, questions will be asked and penalties will be levied,” Sitharaman said.
The Opposition, Sitharaman noted, was being indifferent to the well-being of the country. “We are punching below our weight,” she said.
The prime minister, she said, was willing to speak in Parliament but the Opposition was not allowing the Houses to function in an orderly manner. “We all want to hear the Prime Minister, about demonetisation, remonetisation and about moving to a cashless society. You want the PM to speak, he is willing to talk. It was the PM who made the announcement and he will speak,” she said.
The government, Sitharaman said, was pushing for more use of IT and digitisation. “Several schemes including digital lockers are all happening simultaneously. The IT minister says 1,25,000 post offices and common service centres have been opened all over the country and 1.5 lakh panchayat areas will also be co-habited by common community service centres. There is going to be complete digitisation,” the minister said.
Sitharaman added that with this, the nature of job creation would also change.
She added that smart cities would be such that they adopted technology. “I would think that IT — Indian talent, which exists with the IT in technology — information technology — will be the future of India, the IT in India’s tomorrow,” Sitharaman said, adding India has acquired capabilities that are tangible and which would create soft power.