NEW DELHI: Calling the recent scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes as a "natural corollary" of steps taken to combat black money by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, a senior Cabinet Minister today said the demonetised notes were impacting the "transparency" of the Indian economy.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while speaking at an anti-corruption conference hosted by CBI here, said the step taken by Modi government was a "transformative game changer" exercise. "The present decision of our government to put Rs 500 and Rs 1000 out of legal tender is being debated but if you see the part of architecture our government has done over the years then you will find that this was a natural corollary of initiatives taken by the Narendra Modi government...why this decision of taking out Rs 500 and Rs 1000?...it's a very simple reply.
"15 per cent of India's GDP is cash, very high unlike other countries and out of that 15 per cent, 85-86 per cent is in the tender of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. We don't say every Indian is corrupt, no. We don't say cash of every Indian is bad tender, no. But the hard fact remains that such a huge tender of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 is impacting the probity, propriety and transparency of economy. Therefore, this decision has been taken," he said. Prasad, also the Minister for Electronics and IT, said while he agrees that there "will be some inconvenience for a week or ten days" to the masses, such a step is a "transformative game changer exercise and I am very proud of my Prime Minister that he has chosen to do so."
He said the Modi government, soon after taking over in 2014, has taken a number of steps like notifying of a Special Investigation Team on black money, renegotiating tax treaties, enactment of the Benami Transactions Act and launching a one-time black money compliance window among other steps to "enforce accountability, bring probity and tell the people of India that this government means business."
Prasad said the "biggest legacy" for the Central Bureau of Investigation, the premier probe agency of the country, is the "trust and confidence it invokes in the people" as he asked them "never to spare the offenders."
Prasad said his government has brought in transparency in a number of spheres of governance including the two most talked about corruption issues during the previous government - the 2G spectrum allocation and the coal blocks allotment.
"We got Rs 3 lakh crore in the coal auctions that we did in a transparent manner and also collected Rs 1,10000 crore in the spectrum auctions held sometime back", he said. Talking about the 'Digital India' initiative of the government, the Minister said his government wants to make India an "empowered society." He said due to initiatives taken by the government for financial inclusion, the poor have deposited Rs 42,000 crore in their bank accounts till now.
Prasad added an amount of Rs 36,000 crore has been "saved" by these initiatives of using digital technology and using Aadhaar else it would have been pilfered by middlemen. Lauding the CBI, Prasad said the "clamour for any crime to be investigated by CBI is on the rise" and this asset of trust and confidence in its capabilities needs to safeguarded by the agency.
"There have been aberrations...but they have been largely officer-centric. CBI is an important tool of trust," he said. The Minister asked the officials participating in the '22nd Conference of CBI, state Anti-Corruption Bureaux and Vigilance Bureaux and Economic Offences Wings' to deal with the menace of ponzi crimes in a "stringent manner." He also asked the CBI to enhance capacity building for itself and enhance digitisation of its work.