To make Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s controversial decision of demonetisation a success, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a slew of measures to promote digital payments. Jaitley, while doling out incentives for people using different tools of cashless transactions, said that a 0.75 per cent discount would be given to those who make digital payments while buying petrol and diesel.
Besides this, people buying monthly seasonal tickets in suburban railway networks through digital modes will also get a 0.5 per cent discount, which will be effective from January 1 next year and it will be first implemented by the Mumbai suburban railways.
Announcing incentives for users of toll plazas, the FM said that a 10 per cent discount will be provided on payments made using RFID or Fast Tags for at Toll Plazas on national highways.
In addition to these, Jaitley announced that two point-of-sale machines will be provided for every village with a population of upto 10 lakh, and 1 lakh villages will be selected for this scheme.
“No doubt announcements are attractive enough to lure people to adopt cashless transactions, but what about the pain of all those who don’t have digital tools of payments,” social activist Nikhil Dey said, adding that the Finance Minister is talking about Rs 10 lakh insurance cover to those who book online train tickets, but no such cover for offline passengers, which means their life is useless.
“Announcing measures for the sake of success of demonetisation is not justified as poor are worst sufferers of this move. The marginal workers have become jobless as manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors have started getting aftershocks of demonetisation,” he said.
Doubts have also been raised over implementation of the announcements, which have been made in the absence of ministers concerned.
According to experts, there is no clarity as how the Centre would set up two point-of-sale machines for every village with a population of upto 10 lakh, and 1 lakh villages.
“Given that Gram Panchayats are state subject and when regional straps are up in arms against the note ban decision, the questions are being raised as how the Modi government would establish such point-of-sale machines in villages. It’s also a fact that the Centre is yet to start its deliberations with state over the issue,” the experts said.
They further added that the government is just buying time and diverting people attention by making such attractive announcements day after day.
In a move aimed at wooing farmers, the Finance Minister said that farmers would be issued RUPAY cards by NABARD through which they will be able to get several facilities.
The NABARD will give Rupay card to people who have Kisan Credit Card.
“People paying general insurance premiums will get a 10 per cent discount and 8 per cent discount for life insurance, if the payment is made online, while no service tax will be charged on transactions of up to Rs 2,000, if a card is used,” Jaitley said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked its party MPs to explain to people about benefits of demonetisation, digitalisation and “cashless economy”. Modi told his party men to aware people of simplified ways of doing cashless transaction by dubbing it as simple as using Electronic Voting Machines during elections.
During the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, Modi had asserted that India was moving towards a less-cash and a digital economy and asked the MPs to spread awareness about demonetisation among the masses.
However, raising their voice against demonetisation, leaders of opposition parties observed a ‘Black Day’ in Parliament to mark one month of the announcement of demonetisation.
Besides Congress, leaders of all opposition parties, including TMC, CPI(M), CPI, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party joined the protest wearing black band on their arms.