PARLIAMENT’S PUBLIC Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman K V Thomas has criticised the Central government’s pitch to “leapfrog” into a new cashless, or less-cash, mode as a “cruel imposition” on millions. During the committee’s meeting last week, the issue of rising non-performing assets (NPA) in public sector banks saw members from the BJP and Opposition making common cause in seeking to name and shame big loan defaulters. In the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on adopting digital monetary transaction, Thomas is learnt to have said at a meeting of the PAC on Friday that with 25 per cent of the population still illiterate, the country is nowhere near attaining the level of financial and digital literacy required to make a smooth transition into cashless transactions for the bulk of its population.
“Viewed in this context, the attempt by the government to leapfrog into cashless economy (by) relying upon demonetisation is a cruel imposition on millions of unsuspecting pubic,” Thomas said in his opening remarks. “The department may enlighten whether any other country has promoted cashless transactions in this manner, riding on people’s misery.” Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Financial Services Secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal appeared before the panel during the meeting, which lasted for nearly three-and-a-half hours, and briefed the members on ‘review of monetary policy”.
The meeting also saw a demand for amendment to the 1934 RBI Act to ensure that names of big corporate defaulters are made public, sources said.