Indicating that it may take long for the people to know the actual deposits received in old notes post-demonetisation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said there can be no timeline as the RBI has to count deposits in the range of Rs 14-15 lakh crore.
"Let us be very clear, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has to count every currency note and you are now thinking in terms of lakhs of crore of rupees. You are in the range of Rs 14-15 lakh crore which the RBI has to count. Each counterfeit note will have to be removed and the RBI has to come out with an exact figure," Jaitley said.
"They have hired more machines, and the moment the RBI completes that exercise, it will come out with that number. How can you give a timeline to RBI? You must trust the institution. They have a huge apparatus in place counting each currency note. So, if you are counting Rs 14-15 lakh crore of currency, it is obviously going to take a lot of time," he added.
Declaring demonetisation as one of the greatest steps taken in the country, Jaitley said that to weed out black money and corruption was the prime issue for the government.
"You see a lot of surrounding activity taking place, people are losing properties, properties are getting attached, shell companies are under attack and politicians are being made more accountable. We are getting into a system of all-white money into politics and I think these are all the ecosystem demonetisation has created," he said.
"Demonetisation started bringing digitisation of the economy, lesser use of cash on the centre-stage of the economic thinking. It is changing the spending habits of people. The number of assessees has radically gone up and there is a huge fear in society now and a realisation that it is no longer safe to deal in cash," he added.
When asked about the slowdown in India's GDP to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17 as compared to 8 per cent in the previous fiscal, Jaitley said the economy's curve was going downwards even prior to demonetisation, which was announced in the third quarter of last year.
"FY17 started even before demonetisation, 7.9 per cent, 7.5 per cent, 7.1 per cent. So, you had the curve going down... There was no demonetisation at that stage and, therefore, it is clear that whether it was the global factor or reducing demand or the bank situation, various factors were contributing to it," the Finance Minister said.
"For a quarter or two, demonetisation could have added to it. However, even without demonetisation, 2016-17 was not an year of eight per cent growth. Without demonetisation, we were not growing by 9.1 per cent. I think it could play a role in the long run," he added.