Political Class, Business Leaders Remain Divided


Thiruvananthapuram: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘surgical strike’ against black money by way of withdrawing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 banknotes has evoked mixed reactions in Kerala. While leaders of all political parties vehemently criticised the move citing the hardships imposed by the PM’s decision on the common man, entrepreneurs of the State whole-heartedly welcomed the move. Kerala Legislative Assembly passed a resolution against the Centre’s decision, in the context of its perceived negative impact on the cooperative sector, while the lone BJP member, O Rajagopal, expressed dissent stating that currency demonetisation was aimed at cleansing the economy.  Dr. T M Thomas Isaac, State Finance Minister, said it has affected the State’s economy. “State Government is also for fight against black money, but it should have been done without causing difficulties to common man and in a disciplined manner. The Center’s creation of an imbroglio in the cooperative sector has created panic in the segments like agriculture, small-scale trade and entrepreneurship, and also in the space where institutions like Kudumbashree operate. The phenomenon has begun affecting Kerala’s general monetary scene and the State Government’s economic domain. Kerala will soon see its revenues reduced to half,” he said.

G Vijayaraghavan, Former member, Kerala State Planning Board

“This move by the Centre cannot eradicate black money from the country per se, but the suddenness of the move will definitely act as a deterrent to black marketers in the future. It has had the effect of conducting one or two lakh IT raids simultaneously across the country. In one stroke, it has forced black money out of circulation. Well, no one is saying that India will be free -once and for all- from black money, as it can always come back into circulation after some time. But, it could have been planned better. The Centre could have called a meeting of all Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers and taken them into confidence. The Government needs to act against the money which is kept outside the country.”

V K Mathews, Founder and Executive Chairman, IBS Group

“It is an extremely daring act of the Centre to reduce black money, corruption and counterfeit notes. We all should support it. Of course, there is inconvenience for the citizens in the short term. Anyone opposing this strategic move to transform our financial/social conduct is doing it because of ignorance or ulterior motives. Digital transactions will help improve transparency, efficiency and legitimacy. Demonetisation is one such step which is motivating more people to transact through legitimate channels. It is extremely disappointing that political parties are opposing such a move. For the common man, it is not a matter of politics but an inevitable social transformation towards a legitimate nation for a brighter future.”

Navas M Meeran, chairman, Eastern Group

“This is the first step towards the journey to a cashless economy. Henceforth, more people would start using banking facilities. Fake notes will be eradicated. For retail businesses like Eastern, we have been forced to deal in cash. Now, we have to look into various modes of digital transactions. I am a strong advocate of cashless economy. Once the culture of digital transactions catches up in a big way, the Government might think of reducing the taxes. I feel that it is a solid decision taken by the Modi Government against corruption and reducing black money. The problems we face now are temporary. I request the State Government and the Opposition to align with the Centre rather than making it too complicated.”

Prof. Mary George, Financial Expert

“Prime Minister’s demonetisation initiative is a fight against black money holders and it is the right opportunity to punish them. The decision has created inconvenience to ordinary people. But we should remember that without pain there is no gain. Cooperative banks in the State are acting as black money chests and its officials have been taking bribes for helping those in possession of black money. They do not follow Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and anybody can deposit any amount of money there. These banks, which were constituted with an aim of supporting poor sections of society like farmers have been favouring politicians who use them to safely store their unaccounted money.”