Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hit back at former prime minister Manmohan Singh over his criticism of the government’s move to demonitise high-denomination currency notes, saying his unhappiness was no surprise as ‘maximum black money was generated’ under his rule.
Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament, Jaitley alleged that maximum black money was generated during 2004-14 as the period was engulfed in various scams like 2G and coal scam.
"Those who did not consider the generation of so much black money and scams during their regime as blunder are now finding the crusade against black money as blunder," Jaitley said.
"We are not surprised that they did not like the anti-black money measures the government has taken...Those who did not consider the generation of so much black money and scams during their regime as blunder are now finding the crusade against black money as blunder," Jaitley added.
Rejecting Singh's contention that GDP growth will plunge by 2 per cent, he said that demonetisation will have positive impact on the economy over medium to long term as the money from shadow economy will find its way into the mainstream.
Jaitley’s remark came in the wake of Singh’s criticism of the government and Prime Minister over demonetisation during the Rajya Sabha debate today.
Singh had said that the implementation of demonetisation was a ‘monumental management failure’ and termed it a case of ‘organised loot and legalised plunder’.
Jaitley further accused the opposition of inventing reasons to run away from a debate on demonetisation.
"The government position is very clear from the day one that we are ready for the debate.... The Opposition was finding excuses to avoid discussion but today morning they were taken by surprise when we announced that the Prime Minister will participate in the debate. Now they are inventing and manufacturing reasons to escape the debate," Jaitley said.
The proceeding of the Parliament was today disrupted again due to uproar by the opposition parties.
Stressing that demonetisation decision will have a ‘positive’ impact on the economy, he said, "This (the move) will have positive impact as far as the medium and long terms are concerned. Lot of shadow money will become part of banking system (due to demonetisation)."
The FM said the measure will increase lending capacity of banks which could extend the money to farmers, social sector and also industry.
Seeking to bring out contrast between the UPA and the current NDA regimes, the minister said the previous government had ‘policy paralysis’ and thus, could not take ‘tough decision’ unlike the Modi dispensation.
On an allegation that the some BJP leaders were aware of the move, while Jaitley was not kept in the loop, the Finance Minister said, "This decision was kept a secret. The people who needed to know, knew (about it)... the allegation is already contradictory that the information was known to some BJP members as though I was not a BJP member."
Jaitley also rejected the accusation that RBI Governor Urjit Patel did not address the media after the announcement of the scheme, saying, “The office people are supposed to perform and not come out in front of the camera.”
Underlining that the demonetisation decision is in the interest of the country, he said that the government has taken the ‘right steps’ and is implementing it in the "right manner" and will defend it.
He also rejected the demand for a JPC by some opposition parties, saying there should be some "evidence" or "blame" for initiating such investigation.
The opposition parties have not allowed the Parliament to transact business since the beginning of the Winter Session. They have been demanding a debate under a rule that entails voting, and has demanded that Prime Minister be in the House.
The government, however, has said that it wanted to discuss it under Rule 193, which does not entail voting, and that minister concerned or any other person on behalf of the government will reply.
Earlier in the day, while speaking on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley assured the House that the Prime Minister will participate in the debate on demonetisation.
The Prime Minister was present in the Rajya Sabha today to attend the debate on demonetisation till lunch break.