Former Finance Minister and Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led central administration for 'desperately eyeing' the reserves of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after having 'failed' to get money out of demonetisation.
Addressing a press conference in Indore, Chidambaram said; " After having failed to get money out of demonetisation, the BJP-led Centre is now eyeing the reserves of the RBI which is why they have starte this problem with the RBI after four-and a half-years of being in power".
Chidambaram's attack comes in the wake of reports stating that with the RBI's surplus reserve running up to Rs 9.63 lakh crore, the Centre is now planning to ask the bank to fix the norm on surplus reserve.
"Demonetisation was the beginning of the problem. After 'Notebandi', the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that out of the 15 lakh 44 thousand crore rupees, around three to four lakh crore wll not come back to the RBI and that will be transferred to the Government of India. The Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohtagi told the Supreme Court and I was present there, that their calculation shows that the government will get a windfall of three to four lakh crore rupees. They got zero. 99.3 per cent of the currency came back to the RBI", Chidambaram said.
"The government thought they could make a profit, but they did nothing. Today they are desperate for money. Why? GST collections are short of the target, net direct tax collection is short of the target, the fiscal deficit target. They also want money because this is the election year and and they have always spent. They don't have money", he added.
Calling demonetisation an 'ill-conceived decision' that derailed the economy, he said; "In the immediate aftermath of demonetisation, millions of jobs were lost, millions of people were forced to borrow, thousands of MSMEs were shut down and over a hundred people died while standing in queues. Later the GDP growth slowed down to 8.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 6.7 per cent in 2017-18.
"By any account demonetisation was a catastrophe, an ingenious officially blessed money laundering exercise", Chidambaram said