Counterfeiters get 50 days more to launder money!

Counterfeiters and black money holders need not lose all hope; the government has given them time till end-December to exchange their old or counterfeit currency notes against bank deposits or fresh bank notes.

And as Prime Minister Modi himself asserted, ''Your money will remain yours, there need not be any worry on this score.'' Only the holder of such money has to find the right alternate route for getting it laundered.

While terrror financing and fake notes will any way reappear, it will be poll-bound states where demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes will become a problem, ie, if voters refuse to accept these.

As Prime Minister Modi pointed out on Tuesday that in May 2014 when his government was entrusted with the responsibility of governing the country, it was being said in the context of the BRICS that the ''I'' in it was shaky and continued to be shaky with fake currency coming in container-loads.

"Yet, and in spite of two severe droughts in the last two and a half years, India has become the ''bright spot'' in the global economy. It is not just we who are saying this; it is being stated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

''In this effort for development, our motto has been 'Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas': We are with all citizens and for development of all citizens. This government is dedicated to the poor. It will remain dedicated to them. In our fight against poverty, our main thrust has been to empower the poor, and make them active participants in the benefits of economic progress,'' he added.

''In the past decades, the spectre of corruption and black money has grown. It has weakened the effort to remove poverty. On the one hand, we are now No. 1 in the rate of economic growth. But on the other hand, we were ranked close to one hundred in the global corruption perceptions ranking two years back. In spite of many steps taken, we have only been able to reach a ranking of seventy-six now. Of course, there is improvement. This shows the extent to which corruption and black money have spread their tentacles.

''The evil of corruption has been spread by certain sections of society for their selfish interest. They have ignored the poor and cornered benefits. Some people have misused their office for personal gain. On the other hand, honest people have fought against this evil. Crores of common men and women have lived lives of integrity. We hear about poor auto-rickshaw drivers returning gold ornaments left in the vehicles to their rightful owners. We hear about taxi drivers who take pains to locate the owners of cell phones left behind. We hear of vegetable vendors who return excess money given by customers.

''There comes a time in the history of a country's development when a need is felt for a strong and decisive step. For years, this country has felt that corruption, black money and terrorism are festering sores, holding us back in the race towards development.

''Terrorism is a frightening threat. So many have lost their lives because of it. But have you ever thought about how these terrorists get their money? Enemies from across the border run their operations using fake currency notes. This has been going on for years. Many times, those using fake five hundred and thousand rupee notes have been caught and many such notes have been seized.

''On the one hand is the problem of terrorism; on the other is the challenge posed by corruption and black money. We began our battle against corruption by setting up an SIT headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, immediately upon taking office. Since then

  • a law was passed in 2015 for disclosure of foreign black money;
  • agreements with many countries, including the USA, have been made to add provisions for sharing banking information; 
  • a strict law has come into force from August 2016 to curb benami transactions, which are used to deploy black money earned through corruption;
  • a scheme was introduced for declaring black money after paying a stiff penalty;

''Through all these efforts, in the last two and a half years, we have brought into the open nearly 1,25,000 crore rupees of black money belonging to the corrupt. Honest citizens want this fight against corruption, black money, benami property, terrorism and counterfeiting to continue. Which honest citizen would not be pained by reports of crores worth of currency notes stashed under the beds of government officers? Or by reports of cash found in gunny bags?

''The magnitude of cash in circulation is directly linked to the level of corruption. Inflation becomes worse through the deployment of cash earned in corrupt ways. The poor have to bear the brunt of this. It has a direct effect on the purchasing power of the poor and the middle class. You may yourself have experienced when buying land or a house, that apart from the amount paid by cheque, a large amount is demanded in cash. This creates problems for an honest person in buying property. The misuse of cash has led to artificial increase in the cost of goods and services like houses, land, higher education, health care and so on.

''High circulation of cash also strengthens the hawala trade which is directly connected to black money and illegal trade in weapons. Debate on the role of black money in elections has been going on for years.

''To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the five hundred rupee and thousand rupee currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is 8th November 2016. This means that these notes will not be acceptable for transactions from midnight onwards. The five hundred and thousand rupee notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become just worthless pieces of paper. The rights and the interests of honest, hard-working people will be fully protected. Let me assure you that notes of one hundred, fifty, twenty, ten, five, two and one rupee and all coins will remain legal tender and will not be affected.

''This step will strengthen the hands of the common man in the fight against corruption, black money and fake currency. To minimise the difficulties of citizens in the coming days, several steps are being taken,'' Modi said.