Make public details of RBI, Cabinet meetings of Nov 8: Chidambaram

The entire demonetisation exercise was a case of total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption, said the former finance minister

















<b>PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist</b>
<b>PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist</b>
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NH Political Bureau

Calling the whole demonetisation exercise as a “case of total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption”, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had asked for time until December 30 to end all demonetisation related woes.

Chidambaram demanded that the RBI should make public the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the RBI’s Board of Directors held on November 8, and, the Cabinet Note on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet soon after that evening

The senior Congress leader said that none of the stated objectives for demonetisation have been achieved, which was something he had cautioned on November 9. Meanwhile, the people have been put to enormous hardship and suffering. “Events of the last 50 days have proved us correct,” Chidambaram told mediapersons on Friday in New Delhi.


The former Finance Minister demanded that the RBI should make public the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the RBI’s Board of Directors held on November 8, and, the Cabinet Note on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet soon after that evening.


Chidambaram pointed out that, apart from the 10 vacancies in the RBI’s Board that the NDA government had not yet filled up, a few were absent on November 8 when the meeting started at about 5.30 pm. He wondered how, in about half an hour, the RBI Governor and the few Directors attending had reached the conclusion to demonetise 86℅ of the currency. “Was there any dissent? he said, adding that all details of the meeting should be made public.


Soon after, he said that it was as if the Cabinet was waiting to clear the decision. He said that it was “not a process” but a command performance that was pre-scripted with every person’s role defined. And, the “momentous decision” was taken without consulting key officials, said Chidambaram.


Chidambaram said that he had also cautioned that the test of demonetisation would be in the manner in which it would be implemented. “It is now abundantly clear that the whole exercise was undertaken without forethought and planning; without consulting key officials; without understanding the crucial role of money in circulation; and without assessing the capacity of the currency printing presses to supply new notes,” he said. Besides, the seizure of bundles of new ₹2,000 notes was clear evidence of corruption at the level of the RBI, the currency chests and the bank branches.

PM MUST SAY CURBS ON CASH GONE

“When the Prime Minister addresses the nation tomorrow or on any other day, the people expect that he will make a categorical announcement that all restrictions on money have been ended,” Chidambaram said. He also took a jibe at the PM who had at a rally on December 27 claimed that through the note ban, “in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld.” He said that the terrorism situation had gone worse than earlier, instead of getting better.

Reacting to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who on Thursday claimed that “there was not a single incident of unrest reported”, Chidambaram retorted: “ There is a mistake in assuming that people who are patient are not angry”

Reacting to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who on Thursday claimed that “there was not a single incident of unrest reported”, Chidambaram retorted: “ There is a mistake in assuming that people who are patient are not angry.”


On Jaitley having claimed that after demonetisation the tax mop-up had increased, the former finance minister said that the indirect taxes were largely buoyed by the huge levy on petroleum products, while direct tax collections were more or less in tune with the Budget projections. However, he did concede that when people were given a choice to pay up the pending tax dues with the old notes, many would have taken up the opportunity to clear up the pending arrears, thus boosting the tax mop-up.


Chidambaram, however, did not agree with the Finance Minister’s contention that the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) wasn’t affected much. “The RBI itself has said that the GDP growth would come down by 0.5%,” he pointed out.

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Published: 30 Dec 2016, 8:55 PM