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Letters to the Editor: 30 August, 2019

Revise RTI fees and other government-fees

It was only after revelation through RTI application that Department of Posts discontinued postal-orders in outdated denominations like Rs 1, 2, 5 and 7 because of extremely low sale-figure and high handling cost. According to an RTI response, handling cost of a postal-order was Rs 37.45 to Department of Posts alone in the year 2011-12. Handling cost for clearing-operation of banks is even extra. It is highly illogical that public-exchequer may bear such extra-ordinary loss in handling postal-orders in denominations like Rs 10 and 20. Rather it is time that higher denominations like of Rs 100, 200 and 500 may be added to avoid purchase of demand-drafts in submitting various types of fees.

Government-fees below Rs 50 may either be increased or totally abolished. Or Department of Posts may issue special stamps like there used to be for licences of radio and TV sets for services requiring heavy use of postal-orders in lower denominations of Rs 10 and 20. Beginning can be done with introducing RTI stamps where presently heavy use of postal-orders in denominations rupees 10 is there. RTI stamps can be issued in denominations of Rs 2, 10 and 50. Presently copying-charges under RTI Act in amounts lower than rupees 10 is not feasible because of discontinuance of postal-orders in denominations of Rs 2. Even Central Information Commission CIC in its repeated verdicts has recommended issue of RTI stamps. CIC has also taken up the issue of RTI stamps with Department of Post administratively.

Madhu Agrawal


Free transaction through credit and debit cards

It refers to RBI report released on 29.08.2019 revealing that there has been a shocking 18-percent rise in currency-circulation from that at time of demonetisation of cold currency-notes of rupees 500 and 1000 on 08.11.2016. Thus, it kills the very purpose of demonetisation. This is because stress was given on small digital payments where there are regular cases of frauds affecting ordinary lower and middle income people. Currency-circulation can only be curbed by targeting bigger transactions. Rather than spending so much like Rs 4811 crore on currency-printing in the year 2017-18, study should be made if government and banks can bear complete transaction-charges on use of credit and debit cards. Presently traders having low profit-margins charge two-percent extra from consumers on payments made through credit and debit cards. Amount so spent on bearing transaction-charges partly by government can be further compensated by withdrawing needless cash-incentive of .75 per cent on purchase of petrol and diesel through card-payment. Banks can be directed to reduce transaction-charges on card-payment considerably in case government is ready to bear balance nominal transaction-charges.

Cash-withdrawal limit from banks by an individual should be restored to that at time of demonetisation i.e. Rs 96000 per month by an individual per month, which may gradually be further reduced to Rs 48000 per month. However, for tackling economy-slowdown, on-line sale should be banned or restricted so that retail-wholesale trade contributing maximum 28 per cent to Indian economy may flourish with transaction-less card-payments thus preventing generation of unemployment.

Currency-circulation can further be curbed by asking all Rs 2000 notes to be deposited in banks without being further issued. Step will not affect common people because Rs 2000 notes are mainly used for unaccounted big transactions. Government can generate huge revenue by simultaneously introducing permanent Voluntary Disclosure Scheme whereby 50-percent of unaccounted  money can be invested in long-term Infrastructural Bonds with nominal interest to generate new projects creating huge employment in public-sector rather than imposing surcharges on higher incomes paving towards evasion of Income Tax.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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