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Large deposits post DeMo ends anonymity of cash: Jaitley

A day after the RBI revealed that almost all of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore junked currency had come back, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said deposits of “overwhelmingly large amount” of money in banks has ended anonymity around it and helped fix liabilities.

He said the fallout of the demonetisation of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes was on predicted line, with a hit on economic activity in one to three quarters but gains would accrue in medium to long term from integration of formal and informal economy.

The RBI, which had so far shied away from revealing how much of junked currency came back to system post the November 8 note ban decision, in its annual report on Wednesday said banks have received Rs 15.28 lakh crore, or 99 per cent of the currency invalidated.

According to submissions by its lawyers in the Supreme Court, the government had initially estimated about Rs 5 lakh crore would not come back into the banking system as holders of unaccounted money may find it difficult to deposit them in banks – the only source allowed for getting rid of old currency.

Jaitley said despite the pain associated with demonetisation, the country was ready for this kind of change. “It’s nobody’s case that the black money has totally been eliminated. There are still people who will be doing such transactions. But, I think, a large amount of that has come in,” he said.

Speaking at the Economist India Summit here, Jaitley termed as a “very narrow vision” to consider just the dent in RBI’s profit due to printing of new currency as the cost of demonetisation.

“When the demonetisation was initially announced there was an element of uncertainty. There has not been many such experiments world over and therefore it is natural that there will be speculation as to how much money will come back,” he said.

The banned notes formed 86 per cent of the currency in circulation at that time. Holders of old notes were given a 50-day window to deposit them in banks.

“As the demonetisation progressed and the monies were deposited, it was quite clear that people have found ways and means, legitimately or otherwise, to get the money into the banking system irrespective of the consequences they will face later.

“It was clear that overwhelmingly large amount of money had come back into the banking system, something which was not of great consequences to us in the government,” he said.

The finance minister said it is quite obvious that people found the ways and “I think it did shake the system.”

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