White money is the `new norm' for Indian economy: Arun Jaitley

22 November 2016

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created white money the ''New Normal' through his historic and bold currency reforms and called upon political parties to support the govt's ''courageous move'' to demonetise high-value currency notes.

Jaitley was addressing parliamentarians today belonging to the Bhartiya Janata Party in New Delhi ahead of a debate in parliament on the issue of demonetisation.

"The whole country welcomed this step taken to curb black money...We are ready to hold discussion on demonetisation," Jaitley said at a media briefing after the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) parliamentary body met.

Taking a dig at the opposition, which has come down heavily on the centre for the sudden demonetisation announcement on 8 November, Jaitley said there was a new meaning to "normal".

"Some people are saying that even the finance minister didn't know of this decision, and then they say the party knew beforehand," Jaitley said.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the definition of the 'normal' that had existed for past 70 years," he added.

Opposition parties of all hues have ganged up to demand the prime minister's reply on alleged deaths due to demonetisation and the inconvenience caused to the common man who is forced to stand in queues to draw his / her own money.

Ahead of the winter session, the prime minister had said that he was ready to debate any issue in Parliament. But, rather than debating the issue opposition parties are expected to try to corner government by raising issues such a person's death while standing in a queue to swap old currency.

Jaitley said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision will create history by making white transactions the new norm for the Indian economy. He said it was a historic decision that needed courage and it will be hailed even 20 years from now.

The Modi administration as well as BJP leaders are preparing to counter the anti-demonetisation campaign led by the Congress. Opposition parties had questioned Modi's silence on the issue and demanded that he join the discussion in Parliament.

Jaitley said that government was ready to hold a discussion with the opposition.

Parliamentary proceedings have been facing multiple disruptions during the Winter Session as opposition parties, including, Congress, CPI-M, Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, BSP and others have joined hands in questioning the move to demonetise old currency notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000.

Minister of information and broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu, who spoke after Jaitley, said that political parties have to choose whether they stand by the people of India or black money hoarders.  

Jaitley assured party members that the currently sluggish business transactions will spring back to normalcy soon as remonetisation picks up momentum.
He said the government will, in the coming weeks, focus more on the agriculture sector to ensure that rabi planting is completed in time.

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