The government hopes that the biggest impact of its demonetisation move would be on the mindset of people, according to Union Minister Piyush Goyal. Speaking at the Express Adda in Pune Sunday, the Minister of State (independent charge) for power, coal, new and renewable energy, and mines, said that demonitisation has given the nation a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to leave behind a legacy for its youth. “The ‘chalta hai’ approach has to change some day. Old habits die hard and I cannot expect that tomorrow the whole world will become clean and everybody will run their business honestly. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a nation as large as India to think differently, to try and leave behind a legacy for the youth of India, which is different from the one we inherited. And to my mind, the time is right,” he said.
Making a strong case for going digital, Goyal said that such a move could help the country save more than Rs 20,000 crore. “Currently in India, we have about 71 crore debit cards and 26 million credit cards. Over 450 million of them are used only for withdrawing cash from an ATM. Hardly 45-50 million are used for transacting. It’s an unfortunate situation. Transacting through cash — drawing cash, printing of currency, movement of notes and then collecting them back in the bank, dispensing it through ATMs or counters — costs us Rs 55 to Rs 70 per transaction, all of which can be saved,” he said.
Coming down heavily on the Opposition for holding protests against demonetisation, Goyal said the people have overwhelmingly supported the government’s move. The minister also said that the soon-to-be-introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) would not be successful if a parallel economy existed. “GST would be more successful after demonetisation,” he said.
Speaking about charges levelled by the Opposition, that the government was causing distress to the country for only 0.2 per cent of fake currency in circulation, Goyal said that the government can only give details of fake currency detected or discovered through investigation.
“Now that’s the fake currency that got caught. I don’t know how much more there is because if I knew, I would have caught it. Similarly, how much black money is there is something that the former prime minister and his party will know better. I certainly don’t know. But when this scheme ends, we will certainly know how much increased taxes we get out of the scheme, or how much money never gets deposited in the account because we expect to have all the honest money back into the banking system,” he said.
Welcoming the decision of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to abstain from the protests over demonetisation, Goyal said he was glad that the JD(U) leader was not part of the “unethical protests”.
Asked about the possibility of any future alliance between the JD(U) and BJP, Goyal quipped: “We are against triple talaq but the Constitution allows for honorable divorce in case of a rocky marriage.”