New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Wednesday announced fresh measures to ease the supply of new currency notes on the 15th day of its demonetisation drive. A majority of the new measures are aimed to enhance liquidity in the rural areas ahead of the sowing season and promote digital transactions. The gulf between the government and opposition parties is widening with no business on the fifth day of the winter session.
The Opposition parties on Wednesday came together to protest against demonetisation outside Parliament creating a human chain. Sharpening his attack on the government, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi described the demonetisation drive as the world’s “biggest impromptu financial experiment” and said they are firm on their demand for a JPC probe into the “scam”.
“The nation is standing in line and we are doing just that here,” Gandhi said. The opposition parties have also called for a nationwide protest on 28 November.
• Mamata Banerjee: “Most of industries are on standstill, labour & working class is not getting their daily wages and not able to eat anything,” said the Trinamool Congress chief at a protest rally in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, tweets ANI.
• Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu: “Government will not roll back demonetisation under any situation.”
• BSP’s Mayawati alleged that the “PM does not have the courage to face parliament,” reports NDTV.
• Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav: “PM Narendra Modi is acting on whims and fancies, this is not done in democracy”.
• Lok Sabha adjourns for the day amid unabated Opposition uproar over demonetisation issue, reports PTI.
• Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi: “What PM has done is world’s biggest impromptu financial experiment. Opposition is firm on its demand for a JPC probe into demonetisation issue. The PM must come to Parliament and sit through entire debate on demonetisation.”
Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das announced the new measures by the government in a press conference in New Delhi. Here are the key points:
• The government has made available new Rs500 and Rs2,000 currency notes in 1.55 lakh post offices.
• The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been instructed to make cash available to the District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) to ensure farmers get credit and certain amount in cash.
• Nabard sanctions special limit of Rs21,000 crore to DCCBs to help agri credits.
• Public sector banks and some private sector banks have agreed to waive off service charges on use of debit card till 31 December.
• Railways will waive service charges on e-ticket booking till 31 December.
• All digital transactions through feature phones will not be levied with service charges till 31 December.
• All government organisations, public sector units (PSUs) and agencies have been advised to use digital payment for paying salaries and other expenses.
• The Supreme Court has refused the Centre’s plea for stay of proceedings against demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes across various high courts saying they could grant some immediate relief to people.
Various sectors of the economy are feeling the weight of the demonetisation drive:
• Gold and jewellery establishments in the national capital remained closed for the 13th day on Wednesday after the Income Tax Department conducted surveys following reports of alleged profiteering and tax evasion by traders through demonetised notes. The prices in grey market have tumbled to Rs37,000 per 10 gram over fears that the jewellers may not be able to strike these lucrative deals without inviting I-T department’s attention.
• Perishable food prices have moderated by 3.3% in the 9-21 November period, compared to 1-8 November, as a consequence of the demonetisation due to supply shocks and farmers selling perishable harvest at lower prices.