New Delhi, Dec 2: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley highlighted the benefits of demonetisation, while speaking at HT Summit in the national capital. Jaitley defended the decision to Narendra Modi government to demonetise the currency at a sudden notice. “Demonetisation had to be kept a closely guarded secret,”Jaitley said, as he elaborated upon how it would check generation of black money, curtail corruption and crackdown terror funding through counterfeit notes. Jaitley also claimed the nation, by and large, has welcomed the demonetisation move and is embracing digital modes of transactions.

“In politics and media, it is difficult to digest change,” Jaitley said, adding that people of the nation are taking the steps to adopt with electronic forms of transactions. “Number of PoS (point of sale) machines are increasing. There are currently 80 crore credit cards in circulation and 23 crore e-wallets. Country is accepting the change. But in media and politics, this change is not being digested,” the Finance Minister added.

“To replace 86 per cent cash in circulation, we need to have substantial cash ready,” Jaitley said. He further added that the inconvenience won’t last long. “We will face some inconvenience. It may be for one quarter. But the forthcoming would 12-15 quarters would bring us way more benefits.” He further added saying, “Volume of trade, business will grow, but paper currency will shrink.”

Impact on agriculture

Jaitley pointed out that the impact on agriculture and rural economy is being exaggerated. “The sowing in Rabi season is higher than the previous year. This shows that conditions are already beginning to turn normal,” he said. Jaitley’s claim could be countered by the argument of agricultural expert Ashok Gulati, who had pointed out that the previous year was hit by a devastating drought.

According to Jaitley, the dip in automobile sector was not a shocker and claimed that the limited amount of shrinkage was expected.

On funding of political parties

On being asked whether his party would take the decision of receiving political aides only in form of cheques, Jaitley said, “During the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, we took the first step. I was the Law Minister. We amended the Companies Act and introduced a provision that only upto 5 per cent of profit could be donated to political parties… So, the first step was taken. But I still believe that it was not adequate enough. We need to enact more measures,” Jaitley added.