Demonetisation has narrowed the gap between rich and poor and will help boost GDP growth, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal told Lok Sabha Monday. Replying to a debate on demand for grants (general budget), which the House passed by voice vote, Meghwal said the Opposition has been questioning demonetisation but the verdict in UP and other states had proved people stood with PM Narendra Modi.
“During your tenure the gap between rich and poor had become wide. Demonetisation has made it narrow… Despite all hardships faced by the people during demonetisation, the country stood by the prime minister on the decision,” he said. He said demonetisation had got huge public support as it has dealt a heavy blow to the shadow economy which was to the tune of 33.7 per cent as per the World Bank. The minister insisted demonetisation has helped curb corruption and black money besides checking fake currency and squeezing funding to terrorists.
Meghwal rejected Opposition criticism of the government’s performance and said initiatives taken had pushed growth and was ensuring welfare of all sections of society. Listing the schemes and programmes launched since 2014, he said, “Are these mere slogans? These are not mere slogans. This is actual work done.” He said schemes such as Digital India, Make-in-India and Start-Up India will benefit people and perk up growth. The positive impact is going to be higher GDP growth as consumption, investment and exports, three components of the economy, will get a boost, he said. On advancing of the Budget presentation date, criticised by Opposition parties, Meghwal said the decision was based on the recommendation of the group of secretaries. “The government found merit in their recommendation and accepted it in the interest of the country and people,” he said.
To a question why the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana completion date is 2022 when the term of this government ends in 2019, he said 2022 will be the diamond jubilee year of Independence. He took a dig at the Opposition, saying that some political rivals, by having started saying that they should prepare for the 2024 polls, are implying the BJP would find the sailing smooth in 2019.
Earlier, Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress, questioned absence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when Meghwal rose to reply to the debate. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Meghwal is minister of state for finance and can reply to any question raised by members. Kharge then asked Meghwal to say if the government would limit the farm loan waiver scheme to a few states only. Meghwal did not give a direct reply, following which Congress members walked out.