THERE IS ‘FINANCIAL EMERGENCY AND ‘POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT OF FEAR’ IN INDIA - with thanks to Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

BLOW TO MODI’S BLACK MONEY FIGHT:

A. 97% of banned notes said to be back in banks in blow to Modi’s black money fight.

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B. The anti-corruption measure has dented economic growth and forced millions into lengthy bank queues, although it remains broadly popular. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury and Courtesy by Mint


C. West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra says there is ‘financial emergency and ‘political environment of fear’ in the country.


D. Banks have received Rs14.97 trillion ($220 billion) as of 30 December, the deadline for handing in the banned notes, said a person familiar with the matter.


E. Mitra said, he wanted Jaitley to hear the truth. “I would like to say to you today with a very heavy heart that I have walked out of the meeting after making my presentation...,” he said. The Budget, he said, has “become meaningless for the first time in the history of India. Budget has already been announced by the prime minister. It doesn’t happen anywhere else. Given this perspective, I had to protest it and I had to walk out in protest.”


HIGHLIGHTS:

1. The anti-corruption measure has dented economic growth and forced millions into lengthy bank queues, although it remains broadly popular.


2. New Delhi: Indians have deposited nearly all the currency bills outlawed at the end of the deadline last year, according to people with knowledge of the matter, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to unearth unaccounted wealth and fight corruption.


3. Banks have received Rs14.97 trillion ($220 billion) as of 30 December, the deadline for handing in the old bank notes, the people said, asking not to be identified citing rules for speaking with the media. The government had initially estimated about Rs5 trillion of the Rs15.4 trillion rendered worthless by the sudden move on 9 November 2016 to remain undeclared as it may have escaped the tax net illegally, known locally as black money.


4. A full validation of the bank notes is a set back for Modi who had been relying on this move to burnish his administration’s corruption fighting credentials and boost its popularity ahead of key state elections. The anti-corruption measure has dented economic growth and forced millions into lengthy bank queues, although it remains broadly popular.


5. Banks have disbursed about Rs8 trillion in new currency bills, the people said. The figures of bank notes deposited are provisional and may change, they added. Finance Ministry’s spokesman D.S. Malik didn’t respond to a call and a message sent to his mobile phone.


6. Uttar Pradesh, a bellwether state of 200 million people that sends more representatives to India’s upper house than any other region, will vote in seven phases between 11 February and 8 March, chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi said Wednesday. Punjab and three other states will also vote during this period to select a local government. All results will be announced 11 March 2017.


7. Although Modi’s credibility has been dented, the jury is out on the long-term economic and political fallout. So far his public support remains strong, with some standing in lines waiting to access cash still voicing their approval of his decision to target unaccounted wealth.


8. TMC leaders arrests aim at breaking opposition unity on demonetisation: Congress.


9. Congress general secretary C.P. Joshi said the CBI was silent for a year but suddenly has become active when the opposition is getting united on the issue of demonetization.


10. Kolkata: Echoing Trinamool Congress (TMC), Congress on Wednesday said the arrests of TMC leaders were aimed at breaking the opposition unity on the issue of demonetisation and raised concern about the “timing” of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) actions.


11. “We are questioning the timing of the arrests. For more than a year the CBI was silent, but all of a sudden it has become active when the opposition is getting united on the issue of demonetisation. This is an attempt to break the unity of the opposition on the issue of demonetisation,” Congress general secretary C.P. Joshi told reporters in Kolkata.


12. The “timing of the arrests” has raised a question mark over the impartiality of the probe, he remarked. Congress had on Tuesday alleged TMC Parliamentary Party leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay’s arrest by the CBI was “vendetta unleashed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his detractors” and wondered if it was in reaction to the “opposition unity”.


13. Notably, the Supreme Court had ordered the CBI probe into the chit fund scam based on an appeal by senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan. When asked about it, Joshi said, “The matter is sub judice, so it won’t be right to comment on the matter.


14. The state Congress leadership, under the instruction of party high command, took a U-turn and said presently demonetisation was a much bigger issue than chit fund scam. “The demonetisation is a issue of 125 crore people of India. All opposition parties have united on this issue. But, the chit fund is an issue of two crore people. So you need to prioritise,” Mannan told reporters.


15. State Congress officials said the party high command has clearly instructed the state leadership not to rub TMC in a wrong way, as both parties were fighting unitedly at the Centre on the issue of demonetisation. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, when asked about the attack on state BJP office by TMC activists, said, “I condemn it. Political party offices should not be a target of any attack.”


16. West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra says there is ‘financial emergency and ‘political environment of fear’ in the country.


17. New Delhi: A day after his party’s leader in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday staged an angry walkout from a pre-Budget meeting saying there was ‘financial emergency and ‘political environment of fear’ in the country.


18. Mitra, who was in full attendance at the two-day meeting of the GST Council chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley that ended on Wednesday, said the Union Budget had become a “meaningless” exercise after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on new year’s eve, made announcements similar to a Budget presentation.


19. He said that before walking out, he made the Union finance minister, to hear the expectations of states on his fourth budget to be presented on 1 February and also make him aware of the “financial emergency” imposed by demonetisation and the job losses it has led to. “I wanted the finance minister to hear the reality on the ground, the financial emergency in the country, the political environment of fear all around,” he told reporters after emerging from the meeting.


20. Bandyopadhyay was arrested by the CBI in Kolkata on Tuesday in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam—a move that promoted West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to allege that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agencies like the CBI, enforcement directorate and income tax department against his political rivals who were raising their voice against demonetisation.


21. The Trinamool Congress, he said, is today demonstrating against “the political emergency that seems to have happened at every nook and corner on every matter.” Mitra also said currency demonetisation has led to closure of small industries and left hundreds jobless across the country, including the BJP-ruled States. While the leather industry in West Bengal has completely collapsed, closure of 12 lakh powerlooms in Maharashtra had led to workers returning to their native places in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.


22. In case of Maharashtra, the red chilli industry has collapsed, falling by 30-40%; while in Nagpur, oranges industry has collapsed, he said. “There is a financial emergency that is not being talked about. Even the data that finance minister gave on his receiving taxes, none of the media got the facts as he gave it from April to end of November, not after 8 November 2016,” he said.


23. Mitra said, he wanted Jaitley to hear the truth. “I would like to say to you today with a very heavy heart that I have walked out of the meeting after making my presentation...,” he said. The Budget, he said, has “become meaningless for the first time in the history of India. Budget has already been announced by the prime minister. It doesn’t happen anywhere else. Given this perspective, I had to protest it and I had to walk out in protest.”


The extracts courtesy by: Mint: Last Modified: Wed, Jan 04 2017. 08 19 PM IST


Edited and forwarded by:

Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

Posted on Jan 06, 17 | 8:01 am