Prime minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on the New Year eve, said media reports. The address is likely to be at 7:30 in the evening.
Though it is not immediately known what the speech will be about, speculation is rife that it will be a stock taking of the demonetisation announced on 8 November.
The prime minister had announced the government’s surprise decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in a stated aim to curb the fake currency, black money generation and terror funding.
The decision has deeply impacted the economy and normal lives of millions as it resulted in a severe cash crunch, which still continues.
PM Narendra Modi
As the impact of the decision to replace about 86 percent of the currency in circulation unfolded on various sectors of the economy, the prime minister in a speech sought 50-day time period to deal with the situation. The deadline ends on 30 December.
The lack of preparation of the RBI and the government to deal with the evolving situation was evident as the printing of replacement currencies was slow and failed to keep pace with the rising demand for cash. Also even as the requirement was of more smaller denomination notes, the government released Rs 2,000 notes which did little to ease the crunch situation.
Frequent changes in rules regarding the withdrawal of cash and deposit of banned old notes added to the confusion of the public.
Ever since the pains heightened, there has been wide speculation that the prime minister will announce some sops for the rural and urban poor who have been hit badly as jobs dried up due to the sudden economic slowdown.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Six persons including a lady police constable and a bank employee allegedly cheated a businessman by promising to exchange his Rs 36 lakh in the now defunct currency, police said today.Manish Patel, who runs transport business at Santej in Gandhinagar district, had approached some persons who promised to exchange Rs 36 lakh in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes which he possessed.”Manish got in touch with his relative, asking him to help him exchange the defunct notes. He was then taken to the accused who took his money, promising that it will be exchanged with new currency notes, and did not return,” inspector B N Dave of Santej police said.Patel handed over the money to the accused on November 14, Dave said. When he did not get his money exchanged, he approached the police.An FIR was registered against six people including Maya Patel, a lady police constable from Ahmedabad, and Chandrakant Patel, employee of IDBI Bank, for cheating.Out of the six accused, Chandrakant Patel and Nirav Patel have been arrested, Dave said.
Sandip Jat, who works in an apparel manufacturing company in Noida, is more than happy to receive Rs 36,000 as a three-month salary advance from his employer. Given his meagre salary, it would not have been possible to accumulate this amount in a short period of time. But, the note ban imposed by the Government of India has made it possible for him.
After the move to curb black money, it has become common to pay out advances in various forms, especially for those companies that have big amounts of cash stashed in their safes.
Bimal Jain of Punjab Haryana Delhi Chambers of Commerce says that loans and advances could be ways in which some people may try to get rid of old currency notes they had in their personal safes. Sandip is one of the beneficiaries of this largesse.
Representational image. Reuters
He told Firstpost that his company sells apparel abroad. And so, the company is by no way affected by the cash crunch. “The purchase of raw materials has always been made through banks by our company. The old notes, that the company had in its possession, were paid to us as salary advance. So we are facing no cash crunch,” he said.
Industry experts say that the companies that have been regularly using cash transactions are worst-hit. “Most of our transactions are made in cheques but the cash payments we make for some expenditures have been temporarily stalled. Since we have a long standing with our suppliers they have agreed to it,” says Pramod Agarwal of Surinder Devi Creations.
Jain says that the move has not only affected businesses that are used to cash transactions but even those who deal in luxury goods.
Wakeel Ahmed, who works in a company that sales car batteries, says that sales have fallen by 90 percent after demonetisation.
“ The dealer who used to order 100 batteries a day, now, does not order even 10 of them. It seems that people have stalled purchase of batteries that are mainly used in car engines,” he says.
Fall in demand is largely attributed to lack of liquidity among the people by the industry, but it hopes that sales will recover as soon as the new currency comes in.
Even though former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s stated on Thursday that demonetisation will cause slowdown in the economy, the industry is optimistic that it will bear fruits for the economy in the future.
Pramod Agarwal, of Surinder Devi Creations told Firstpost that the money that will be unearthed by this process will, in turn, enrich the economy.
Members of the industry also believe that demonetisation will result in a realistic pricing of various goods and commodities, which will strengthen the value of rupee.
“Once foreign currency accumulation increases in the state coffers due to appreciation of rupee, budget deficit will decrease. That will boost up the economy,” he adds.
In the same note Hari Prasad, proprietor of Manokamna Exports says, “For the last fifteen days I have been carrying a cheque of Rs 50,000 and not being able to encash it. Many of my workers are absent from work because they have to go to banks. Still, I am happy with the move and to make all transactions digital. It will make corruption difficult.”
Regarding the criticism that demonetisation has received, Prasad compares it with the advent of computerisation in accounting. He says that when computerisation was introduced in accounting processes, many people were wary that it will lead to loss of jobs. But now computers have become part of our daily lives. “The case is similar with demonetisation. Once people get accustomed to it, they will understand its good effects,” he says.
In a victory of sorts for women seeking entry inside temples, on Friday the Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court that it is against gender discrimination and will strictly implement provisions of Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act.The state government stated that it will issue circulars informing superintendent of police and district collectors to strictly implement provisions under the Act. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state also said that it will not allow any kind of gender discrimination at religious places but stated that if men are not allowed inside the inner sanctorum of the temple then the same rule will be applicable for women. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by senior advocate Nilima Vartak and activist Vidya Bal, challenging the prohibition of entry of women in the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.The petition seeks the entry of women not just into the temple, but also inside its sanctum sanctorum. The petition says that the prohibition is arbitrary, illegal and in violation of fundamental rights of citizens.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said the government has fulfilled its promise of ‘One Rank, One Pension’ to ex-servicemen to a large extent and it would refer “minor issues”, if any, to a one-man commission for redressal.As promised by BJP, the government has already issued tables of various pensions as per the One Rank-One Pension (OROP) Scheme, which involves an annual fund requirement of approximately Rs 7,500 crore and Rs 10,980 crore of arrears which would be paid in four instalments, he said. “This is one promise which is to a large extent — minus minor issues raised by a few people — has been fulfilled and we have made provision to also hear any other small, small issues…for retired community from defence forces is huge and a common formula cannot solve all the issues,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of an international maritime conference here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”So, if there are some issues left, they can be raised with the government, we will refer it to the one-man commission and then we can come out with a redressal of those mechanisms,” the minister added.The government had last year announced that it will implement OROP under which a uniform pension would be given to armed forces personnel retiring at the same rank with the same length of service.