The Big Picture- Impact of Demonetization
At the stroke of the hour on midnight of 9th November 2016, India lost 86% of its monetary base. The print, electronic and social media has been praising Prime Minister’s masterstroke by which he has reportedly destroyed the base of corruption in India. In this single move, the Government has attempted to tackle all the three issues affecting the economy i.e. a parallel economy, counterfeit currency in circulation and terror financing. There is no doubt that Prime Minister has pulled out a major coop and substantially enhanced his reputation as a strong leader.
Views and Counterviews:
The idea of demonetization is good but it has to be taken into consideration that most of the black money is kept in the form of land, buildings or gold or kept abroad. What is in cash constitutes only 4% of the total amount of black money on which taxes are not being paid. Out of this, a lot of money is in circulation in everyday transaction like if someone is building a house; the bill is not paid through banks for sand, bricks etc. This money goes into the other systems though it has been drawn from bank. These things will come under control with this step.
Small farmers, sellers, merchants, daily wage labourers and traders are suffering because of lack of proper planning, intelligence and foresight such as recalibration of ATM machines. There was need to pile up enough 100 Rupee notes and other smaller denomination notes in the market before taking this step. It is being said by critics that this step was taken only to bolster the image of the Prime Minister as he has been unable to deliver on GDP growth, inflation and bringing the black money from abroad.
Demonetization is an established practice in monetary policy to tackle black money. The Prime Minister has explained why this is a financial surgical strike. It was meant to be suddenly implemented. In the past, demonetization has taken place twice but it fails because the idea is to tackle the black money existing in circulation. This is not tackle corruption per se or the Government is not saying that 100% corruption will be tackled. If announcement and time would have been given, this step might not have been successful in controlling black money and counterfeit currency in circulation coming from Pakistan, Nepal or other countries.
People are facing problems because the limit of withdrawal has not been kept at a higher level. If this would have been kept at a higher level, there were chances that the recycling of black money might begin. The ideal money in circulation has to come to the banking channels.
It is also being said that what is being attempted is replacement of currency and not demonetization itself which was unnecessary. This is a terrible setback for the international standing of the Indian economy. At this time, the economy is struggling with slowdown. There is demand sluggishness in the economy leading to practically no private sector investment and stagnant industrial growth. If we look at the farm sector, this is the harvest time. Farmers generally deal in cash and India is also largely a cash economy. The cash transactions in this economy are far more than the total number of electronic transactions done on a daily basis. In the tribal heartland of the country, the poor people through middlemen are getting their currencies exchanged for Rs.300 or Rs.400 because of lack of proper information which is hitting them.
The stock of the black economy constitutes a major part of the GDP is significant. Even if 50% of this amount is withdrawn, the kind of relief that RBI will get on its liabilities and the sort of deposits commercial banks will get will lead to a rise in the deposit and later on there will be decrease in lending rates plus fiscal deficit. The black money in circulation is like a steroid in the economy which keeps the demand going gives a feeling that everything is working well. The problem is that investment is not taking place in the economy and the rate of growth of capital formation is down. The only way to bring this up is to divert more funds into investments which will happen when the cost of capital comes down.
So far, it can be said that this is a historical step and should be supported by all. One should look at the bigger picture which will definitely fetch results in the long term. This is what the people have been asking for a long time which has finally happened.