New Delhi: Making a sharp attack on the Modi government on demonetisation, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said the country paid a “huge price” for cancelling what turned out “a small sum” of Rs 13,000 crore.
He said for the Rs 13,000 crore, which did not come back to the banks, the country lost Rs 2.25 lakh crore worth of GDP, crores of jobs and over a hundred lives.
His remarks came soon after the Reserve Bank of India said in its annual report on Wednesday that around 99.3 per cent of the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which were banned overnight in November 2016, were returned to RBI.
“Every rupee of the Rs 15.42 lakh crore (barring a small sum of Rs 13,000 crore) has come back to the RBI. Remember who had said that Rs 3 lakh crore will not come back and that will be a gain for the government,” the Congress leader said in a series of tweets.
He added that the bulk of Rs 13,000 crore which was not returned may also not be black money but the currency in Nepal and Bhutan and some which may have been lost or destroyed.
“So, government and RBI actually demonetised only Rs 13,000 crore and the country paid a huge price. Over 100 lives were lost. 15 crore daily wage earners lost their livelihood for several weeks. Thousands of SME (small and medium enterprises) units were shut down. Lakhs of jobs were destroyed,” Chidambaram said.
“Indian economy lost 1.5 per cent of GDP in terms of growth. That alone was a loss of Rs 2.25 lakh crore a year,” he added.