Business India

Note ban was money laundering exercise: Yechury

A day after the RBI revealed that 99 per cent of the scrapped currency notes came back into the system post-demonetisation, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday called the note ban a “money laundering exercise” and demanded that the government bring a “black paper” on the issue.

“All of the (demonetisation) exercise’s stated objectives have failed. Normally, we ask for a white paper on such issues but since Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it is fight against black money, I think the government should bring a black paper on this,” Yechury said.

He asked whether the real motive of demonetisation was to save the banks — reeling under the burden of more than Rs 11 lakh crore of unpaid debts by big corporates — from collapsing.

Modi had on November 8 last year announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to fight black money.

On Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of India, in its annual report, said that Rs 15.28 lakh crore of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore scrapped currency has come back after demonetisation.

“Reportedly, more than 100 per cent of demonetised currency is coming back after Bhutanese, Nepalese and Co-op banks’ currency is taken in. This shows it was a very, very successful money laundering scheme,” Yechury said.

He said there was no mention of digitisation on November 8, 2016, but as the economy crashed, the government went out of its way to help “certain selected private companies” under the mask of digitisation.

“The Prime Minister himself featured in a full-page advertisement of a private company (Paytm). Why? Clearly to give a profit bonanza to international and domestic players,” he alleged, adding that huge public money was wasted in full-page advertisements.

He said that the informal sector has crashed and as per data the sector, which employs more than two-thirds of country’s workforce, has collapsed due to demonetisation.

“Lives, livelihoods and jobs have been decimated. This government is responsible for this… Why were people imposed with a burden of printing new notes costing Rs 8,000 crore and ATM recalibration cost of over Rs 35,000 crore in addition to the loss of economic activity estimated by the CMIE and others to the tune of Rs 1,50,000 crore?” he asked.

Yechury said that the government “must fix accountability for this disaster and punish those responsible”.

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