Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday said it is an attempt of the government to strengthen the economy by bringing in fiscal discipline in the country. Irani spoke about demonetisation and its social impact while addressing the 31st regional conference of Western India Regional Council (WIRC) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Saturday.
Starting her address in Gujarati by calling herself a Gujarati daughter-in-law, Irani made the auditorium packed with Chartered Accountants burst into laughter demanding her tax refund from her own CA who was present at the conference. Cracking a joke on the effects of demonetisation, Irani said that everybody is waiting for a CA since November 8.
Justifying demonetisation, Irani said how can a country strengthen its economy if more than half the so called enterprises are outside the formal economy. “Our country has around 6.3 crore enterprises and out of this 2.4 crore don’t even have an office or address. So a large component of those who claim to be enterprises are outside the ambit of formal economy. Additionally what also concern us is that only 11 lakh of these firms pay the mandatory provident fund.”
She added, “Can we genuinely be a strong economy which looks after social means when the quantity of participation is so low?”
Targeting the Opposition, Irani said the move was against corruption and black money, and irrespective of naysayers, all the elements have come together to become part of an economic revolution in the country. “I am grateful to my industry for stepping up this initiative of the government. In mere three weeks, close to five lakh bank accounts of textile workers were opened. Fifteen nationalised banks helped open micro ATMs within 72 hours across all weaver service centres and artisan clusters in the country,” Irani said.
She highlighted that since November 8, collection of taxes by municipal bodies increased 2.5 times. “The official estimates that I have show that in November last year, about 23,000 urban institutions had received Rs 3,000-Rs 3,500 crore in taxes, this year after November 8 the figure is Rs 13,000 crore. As compared to last year, indirect tax collection by municipal bodies increased by 26.5 per cent and direct taxes showed an increase of 15 per cent,” she said.
The minister also highlighted that there has been an increase in usage of different e-wallets since November 8. “This increase in usage of net-banking and e-wallets shows that when citizens decide to co-operate a lot of change can happen.”