Demonetisation exercise an utter failure; Was it designed to convert black money into white?

Nearly 10 months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation, the Reserve Bank of India’s annual report has finally revealed that as much as ₹15.28 lakh crore of the high-value currency that was demonetised in November returned to the central bank. This shows that the Demonetisation, which was touted to be a big reform has failed. As per the data released by the RBI in its annual report on Wednesday, of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore of notes taken out of circulation with demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, Rs 15.28 lakh crore returned to the system by way of deposits by the public. It shows nearly all money has returned. Rs 16,000 crore out of demonetised notes of Rs 1,544,000 crore did not come back to RBI. That is 1 per cent.

Meanwhile, taking a dig at the Centre over demonetisation exercise, Congress has sought an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After the release of RBI annual report on Wednesday, Demonetisation critics raised doubts whether demonetisation achieved the government’s claims on the move as a “surgical strike” on black money. They pointed out that tax evaders managed to legalise their unaccounted money through shell companies and proxies, made high-value purchases using backdated bills and colluded with bank officials to exchange old currency.

Making a tweet, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi termed the move as “colossal disaster” that “cost innocent lives” and “ruined” the economy”. “Will the PM own up,” he questioned.

Former finance minister, Chidambaram ridiculed the demonetization move saying, “99 per cent notes legally exchanged! Was demonetisation a scheme designed to convert black money into white?”

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala sought PM’s apology saying demonetisation not only dented institutional sanctity of the RBI but also India’s credibility abroad. In his tweet, he claimed that Dr. Manmohan Singh’s prediction that demonetisation will reduce GDP by 2 pc came true.

Launching stinging attack on the Centre, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said India can “never forgive” the Modi government for the “anti- national act”, which allegedly hit the country’s economy.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee claims that the RBI data “points to a big scam”. She noted that because of demonetisation, the country lost Rs three lakh crore in the fourth quarter and hundreds of people died. “Demonetisation was supposedly done to uncover several lakhs of crores of black money. And now what we have got is a big big zero!” Banerjee said.

Many experts have noted that data shows that the demonetisation exercise was an utter failure. It must also be noted that this is not the final number. The RBI is yet to count old notes received at cooperative banks and old notes submitted by citizens an institutions of Nepal. By the time these numbers too gets added up, the likelihood is that the final figure will be much closer to 100 percent mark. Moreover, the number of counterfeit notes or fake notes detected during the exercise is only minuscule, just about 7.6 lakh pieces, as compared with 6.3 lakh pieces in the year ahead.