The major sectors of the economy including FMCG, jewellery and SMEs have been hit post demonetisation, while the unorganised sector is seeing job losses, according to industry body Assocham.
In an interview, Assocham President Sunil Kanoria lamented the lack of preparedness and the manner in which demonetisation was implemented, saying perhaps the “gravity and the size of the challenge was not really understood”.
“There is a lot to be worked out for, the way it has been implemented I am sure even the Prime Minister is not happy,” Kanoria said, adding “It (demonetisation) will disturb the current scenario. It will have an impact on the GDP.”
Sharing the ground-level scenario post the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and the ensuing cash crunch, Kanoria said jewellery firms have been hit hard whereas the consumer goods area and small and medium enterprises have also been impacted.
Asked whether the earnings of corporates will take a hit, at least in the ongoing and next quarter, Kanoria said: “Some of the businesses, yes. Businesses which are directly linked to the consumer will get some impact”.
The Assocham president pitched for “major tax reforms” for demonetisation to have the desired results in terms of checking black money and corruption, observing that the coming Budget “will be very, very crucial for this government”.
“They need to slash tax rates to such an extent that it does not allow or provides disincentives to people who create black money,” Kanoria said.
Elaborating, he said the Rs 2.5 lakh income tax exemption threshold should be increased to Rs 5 lakh whereas between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 15-20 lakh the levy should 10 per cent so people do not feel the pinch.
Kanoria said the average rate of Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be lowered to 15 per cent from 18 per cent.
On whether he sees job losses in the economy in the short to medium term, he said: “In unorganised (sector), which is the daily wage earner, there will be some impact at the moment... The sales will get affected so they (vendors) will not be able to pay on a daily basis. The small, unorganised sector of the economy will have some impact.”
He also said the deadlock in Parliament “does not augur well” and political parties need to be more mature.
Meanwhile, Despite a huge surge in total deposits in Jan Dhan accounts following demonetisation, about one-fifth of these still continue to have no balance.
Net addition in the 25.8 crore Jan Dhan accounts was just Rs 288 crore during the week ended December 7, taking total deposits to about Rs 74,610 crore.
The percentage of zero balance account however remained flat at about 22.9 per cent despite the addition of Rs 29,000 crore in total deposits in about 30 days after demonetisation of high value notes took effect on November 9.
After the initial surge, total deposits in Jan Dhan accounts have seen a decline week after week. As much as Rs 1,487 crore was parked in these accounts during 7 days ended November 30, as against Rs 8,283 crore in the previous week.
The accretion was Rs 18,615.54 crore a week after demonetisation which moderated to less than half to Rs 8,582.57 crore during the 7-day period November 17-23.
Deposits in the 25.8 crore such accounts totalled Rs 74,609.50 crore at the end of December 7, as per the Finance Ministry data.
The upper limit for deposits in Jan Dhan account is Rs 50,000.
The overall amount was Rs 72,834.72 crore in 25.68 crore accounts at the end of November 23.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised entire nation with demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8, deposits in Jan Dhan accounts have increased by 28,973 crore. As of November 9, the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs 45,636.61 crore.
The aggregate deposits increased to Rs 64,252.15 crore in a week ended November 16.
Last week, the government said that inflows into Jan Dhan accounts have come down significantly after it warned people not to allow their accounts to be misused for converting black money into white.
After setting a cash deposit limit of Rs 50,000 in Jan Dhan accounts, the government had on November 18 cautioned account holders that they will be prosecuted under the I-T Act for allowing misuse of their bank accounts through deposit of black money in Rs 500/1,000 notes during the 50-day window till December 30.
The directive came against the backdrop of reports that some people were misusing other persons’ bank accounts to convert their black money into new denomination notes.