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Are those observing black day in favour of black money, asks Sitharaman

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday wondered if the opposition parties are in favour of black money as they are observing the first anniversary of demonetisation as a black day.

On this day last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which he said was aimed to eradicate black money and terror funding.

Opposition parties have decided to observe the first anniversary on Wednesday as black day as the decision to scrap the high denomination notes had put people into difficulty and resulted in job losses.

Speaking to reporters here, Sitharaman asked whether opposition parties are in favour of black money by observing November 8 as a black day while the government had taken the move in order to eradicate black money.

She also said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh turned a blind eye on the corruption in his government and added that it is disappointing that he is against demonetisation.

Sitharaman said the government had announced voluntary disclosure scheme last year urging people to declare their unaccounted money/assets with September 30, 2016 as the last date.

Demonetisation was done only after giving time to the people.

Queried about the double impact on people — demonetisation and introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in quick succession — Sitharaman said: “When we came to power the opposition questioned why the GST bill was not passed. Similarly people queried us about bringing out the black money.”

She said when the government acted on these two issues, people are now saying could these two could have been spaced out.

Sitharaman said there is no compulsion on the people to make digital payments. But digital payment has enabled the government to eliminate bogus claimants.

She said the total number of currency notes to gross domestic product (GDP) has to be at a certain level and hence the high value notes were banned last year.

Sitharaman said about 20 per cent more confiscation of black money happened post demonetisation.

She said the BJP government’s fight against black money will continue and the Finance Ministry is looking into the complaints on transaction fee charged on people on digital payments.

She also said demonetisation did have an impact on the country’s economy but after one quarter the negative impact has started to taper down.

“We are not going to sit back now saying we have done demonetisation. We will continue to take steps to eradicate black money,” Sitharaman said.

According to her, the economy should be open and transparent as secrecy and closed economy is not good.