Minister of state for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal in an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV has said that his party is not only committed to wiping out black money, terror funding and counterfeit notes but is also ready for political cleansing.
Mincing no words Meghwal said that BJP government was trying to bring back all the black money parked offshore and demonetisation is a step towards that. He also that BJP is interested in political funding through chequeues and all campaign details will be part of the record books.
On being asked about the politics on GST, Meghwal slammed the opposition for clubbing demonetisation and GST. He said that any kind of political throwback on GST will not be good for the country and that the opposition was wrong in doing so.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:
I will begin by asking you about GST, recently Bengal’s Finance Minister has said that the federal structure of the country, right now doesn’t allow for GST because of demonetisation…
We had many meetings of the GST Council…Mr. Mitra was advocating the GST in the council. The political situation has changed by demonetisation because of his CM he has advocated like this. But GST is necessary to this country at this point of time, because we are at the ease of doing business. I think it will help and generate revenue for West Bengal.
We see a strong unity within the opposition and they are opposing demonetisation strongly, is there any kind of political payback which you can see against GST?
I am hopeful that the GST Council will be passing all the rules and regulations regarding the GST to proceed further. My opinion is GST and demonetisation is two different things, if the opposition is clubbing both of them are not good for the country.
The entire opposition has come together to call the implementation of demonetisation very shoddy.
It is a big decision and it will take time. I have visited ATMs in many constituencies. Though the people are in queue, they are supporting this movement. It is because it has become a people’s movement. Now the popularity of Modi ji is huge.
People from the informal sectors like daily wagers who earn in daily basis, it is a great problem for them. Aren’t the government was prepared enough for this kind of situation? How the government is going to convince these people from where 80% of the money coming from?
After the implementation of the demonetisation process on 8th November, we have issued 35 notification circular correction measures. We have taken on the representations and we have received from the public. We are getting the feedback from the public and we are issuing the circular to the public. They should not panic. After sometime we will have enough cash in the ATMs so there should not be any problem. And the country is moving towards the cashless society.
You are actually sitting on the driver’s sit as a MoS Finance, won’t you honestly admit to the fact that introducing demonetisation at this point of time is like bursting the car’s tyres which is already in the race?
This is not the real picture; you can ask the queue people. They are supporting the movement. Rahul Gandhi recently visited the people in the queue, asking to join him in the protest against demonetisation, but people are shouting Modi slogan. People know that Modi can only take such kind of decision and make India progress.
Demonetisation is a bad decision by the present government; it will curb the GDP by 2%, why does you think the world won’t believe what Manmohan Singh had said inside Rajya Sabha?
I cannot comment on Manmohan ji, but I was present inside the Rajya Sabha when he criticized the movement, He said “Monumental mismanagement”, monuments like RBI and Finance departments, North Block, South Block, I would like to remind the country that Manmohan Singh ji started his career from here as a economic advisor, he was Governor, RBI, he was Finance Minister and PM of this country. How come he says this?
The criticism made by him is not up to the mark. Secondly, he said that the GDP will decline by 2%, I don’t agree. I have visited so many areas where unaccounted economic activities are going on. For example, I have visited Ahemadnagar in Maharashtra for an inauguration of a cooperative bank, where I met so many people saying that we got license from RBI to open banks.
Whereas the cooperative societies are not getting license from the RBI to open a bank, where they are generating the economic activity, where they not even counted in the GDP. My view is that it will be counted in the GDP and the GDP will increase by double digit.
How will you explain the huge amounts of deposits and withdraws in fact, I got data from RBI that there was a withdrawal of 4.9 lakh cores in September and October quarter, how will the government convince the suspicion of the opposition about such huge amounts of deposits and withdraws that have taken place?
Some people find suspicion in every good thing. Some faults of the law that they deposited money in the Jan Dhan Yojana. They converted their Jan Dhan Yojana account into KYC account. We have made it rule that they cannot withdraw more than 10000 rupees from Jan Dhan Yojana account. We made amendment in the taxation law also; loopholes are prevailing in the taxation laws. And now we have made amendments to the law so they can’t use the loopholes.
Given the fact the RBI has not been talking much, since the demonetisation decision has been taken. We have not seen RBI showing up much after this Modi movement… why is RBI not talking much?
RBI is a regulator, they regulate the things. They shouldn’t talk much, it is their duty. Governor RBI has made it clear and it not necessary that it should speak regularly to the Press. RBI and the government, exchange suggestions but need not talk often.
RBI’s silence has raised the hackle of many people because SBI’s chairman, Ms Arundhati Chatterjee has been doing the major talking. So people think that there is something wrong between the banks and RBI?
It is not necessary. I give an example of the film. The RBI is like the director of a film. It doesn’t come in front.
PM and all the ministers have been talking about it that the secrecy factor. They were supposed to keep it secret; the West Bengal BJP withdrew a huge amount of money…
It is an incorrect statement. Rahul Gandhi has said that Arun Jaitley didn’t know about the demonetisation thing… after half n hour Rahul briefs that BJP units knew about it. It is a contradictory statement by Rahul. We all were well informed and we informed all about the demonetisation. Few districts of Bengal and Bihar there are a purchase of land with proper cheques.
How will you convince the people in the informal sector who depend on the daily cash?
In Goa public meeting the PM has demanded 50 days from the public and the public has accepted his proposal. After 50 days we will sit and discuss. Even after that, the people are standing in the queue without complaining.