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Full text: Demonetisation a case of mismanagement, corruption, says Chidambaram

Chidambaram said that the government and RBI should make public the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Directors of RBI held on November 8.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 30, 2016 7:46:36 pm
demonetisation, P Chidambaram, common man, notes demonetisation, currency demonetisation, 500 rupee notes, 1000 rupee notes, bank, banks, atm, atms, india news, indian express Former finance minister P Chidambaram

Taking a dig at PM Narendra Modi, senior Congress spokesperson P Chidambaram on Friday, said that according to the PM’s announcement the woes of demonetisation will come to an end on December 30. He said that the government and RBI should make public the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Directors of RBI  held on November 8. He also asked for making public the note for Cabinet on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet on November 8.

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Here is the full text of P Chidambaram:

In a short while from now, the woes of demonetisation should come to an end. The Hon’ble Prime Minister had asked for time until December 30. According to the Prime Minister, who said at a rally on December 27, “Through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld.”

People’s expectations

It is therefore fair to expect that all the above objectives will be achieved by the end of today.

It is fair to expect that beginning Monday, January 2, 2017, all restrictions on money imposed on November 8, 2016 will be removed and the people will be able to withdraw the money in their bank accounts.

It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs.

It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with currency notes.

It is fair to expect that the bank branch will pay out the money written on the cheque and not direct the drawer to write another cheque for a smaller amount.

I wish I could hold out assurances on these matters, but none of us in the Opposition can, because the government has dubbed all of us in the Opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders.

Therefore, the only person who can assure the people on these matters is the Hon’ble Prime Minister and I would urge him to do so. When the Prime Minister addresses the nation tomorrow or on any other day, the people expect that he will make a categorical announcement that all restrictions on money have been ended.

READ | Demonetisation: Make public minutes of RBI meet, cabinet note, says Chidambaram

When I addressed the media on November 9, I had said that if the objectives are to unearth and stamp out black money and put an end to corruption, the Congress party would fully support the objectives. However, I had cautioned that none of the stated objectives is likely to be served through demonetisation. Events of the last 50 days have proved us correct. Hoards of black money in new Rs 2000 notes have been found. Bribes have been given and taken in new Rs 2000 notes. There is no guarantee that black money will not be demanded or generated in future or that bribes will not be given or taken in future in the new currency notes.

Total mismanagement

I had also cautioned that the test of demonetisation lies in the manner in which it will be implemented. It is now abundantly clear that the whole exercise was undertaken without forethought and planning; without consulting key officials; without understanding the crucial role of money in circulation; and without assessing the capacity of the currency printing presses to supply new notes. Besides, the seizure of bundles of new Rs 2000 notes is clear evidence of corruption at the level of the RBI, the currency chests and the bank branches. Altogether, the whole exercise has been a case of total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption.

Compensation

In the last 50 days, the people have been put to enormous hardship and suffering. Among the worst affected are farm labourers, daily wage earners, the self-employed, and those who run micro, small and medium businesses. Many of them have been economically ruined. They will require help to re-build their lives. Yet, so far, the government has not uttered a word about compensating the people for the economic losses heaped upon them by demonetisation.

The government has tried to change the narrative from black money and corruption to a cashless economy. No economy can become — or has become – totally cashless. We support encouraging high-value transactions to adopt the digital mode, but to insist that even low-value transactions should go cashless is an absurd and undesirable goal. There are serious issues of privacy and cost to the payer and the payee. These issues require serious debate.

Demand for papers

Let me conclude by reminding you that the Congress Vice President, Shri Rahul Gandhi, raised some pertinent demands two days ago. The government is obliged to respond to those demands. In addition, I would demand that the government and the RBI make public,

1. The Agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Directors of RBI held on November 8, 2016; and
2. The Note for Cabinet on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet on November 8, 2016.

I wish all of you a very Happy New Year!

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