Jaitley says Chidambaram 'doesn't understand objective of demonetisation'

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

He said the next step will be to put an end to black money used in election.

"Each of these areas have received extremely positive effect due to demonetisation", Jaitley told reporters after the RBI's annual report was released.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday made desperate attempts to defend Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who's facing considerable embarrassment after it emerged that the 99% demonetised money in circulation was back with the RBI.

Jaitley said some people are stressing on the windfall gain by the RBI as a result of demonetisation which was never the objective. As per the RBI's report the volume of cash currency has come down by 17 percent, he added.

Elaborating on the currency ban, the Finance Minister said, "the object of demonetization was that India is predominantly high cash economy therefore that scenario requires to be significantly altered".

He also reiterated that the currency ban has affected the "capacity to use cash in terror attacks".

The finance minister, however, said the post-demonetisation cash squeeze in Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir is evident in dip in terrorist and separatist activities in the states.

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"We have more taxpayers both on direct and indirect tax, as reflected in the 27% rise in personal income tax returns filed and the GST collections in its first month - a larger tax base, more digitization, lesser cash, integration of the informal economy with the formal economy, which was also the principal objective of demonetisation", he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Congress hit out at the NDA government and at the central bank for the note-ban move. "Was demonetisation a scheme created to convert black money into white?" questioned Chidambaram, further remarking, "Shame on RBI which recommended this move".

"People are now compelled to deposit their money into the banks".

The Finance Ministry said transactions of more than three lakh registered companies are being scrutinised, while one lakh companies have been "struck off the list".

The government has already identified more than 37,000 shell companies which were engaged in hiding black money and hawala transactions.

The Income-Tax Directorates of Investigation have identified more than 400 benami transactions up to May 23, 2017 and the market value of properties under attachment is more than Rs 600 crore, the statement added.

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