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Buoyed by the recent poll victories, the government today asserted that demonetisation had got a huge public support as it has dealt a heavy blow to the shadow economy which was to the tune of 33.7 per cent.
Demonetisation will help boost GDP and the higher growth will lead to social and income equity in the country, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said in the Lok Sabha.
He was replying to a debate as the House passed the Supplementary Demand for Grants for 2016-17 and Demand for Grants for 2017-18 of various ministries as required to complete the budgetary exercise.
Meghwal, in his speech, rejected the opposition criticism of the government's performance and said the slew of initiatives taken by the Modi government had pushed growth and was ensuring welfare of all sections of the society.
Listing the schemes and programmes launched since 2014, he said, "Are these mere slogans? These are not mere slogans. This is actual work done."
He said all the schemes like 'Digital India', 'Make-in- India' and 'Start-Up India' are going to benefit people and perk up growth.
Pointing to demonetisation, the minister said the decision had won a huge support from the people and this was reflected in the election results in five states earlier this month.
"Despite all hardships faced by the people during demonetisation, the country stood by the Prime Minister on the decision," Meghwal said.
Emphasising that demonetisation will reduce the rich-poor divide, he said it has dealt a heavy blow to the shadow economy which was 33.7 per cent of Indian economy as per the World Bank report.
The positive impact is going to be higher GDP growth as consumption, investment and exports, which are three components of the economy, will get a boost, he said.
The minister insisted that demonetisation has helped curb corruption and black money besides checking fake currency and squeezing funding to terrorists.
On advancing of the Budget presentation date which has
been criticised by opposition parties, Meghwal said the decision was based on the recommendation of Group of Secretaries.
"The government found merit in their recommendation and accepted it in the interest of the country and people," the Minister of State for Finance said.
To a query as to why Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana completion date is 2022 when the term of this government is coming to an end in 2019, he said the target has been fixed considering that it will be the Diamond Jubilee year of the country's Independence.
This government wants to provide a roof to every citizen of the country by then, he added.
In the context of the target year being 2022, Meghwal took a dig at the opposition, saying some among the political rivals had already started saying that they should prepare for 2024 Lok Sabha polls, implying that the BJP would have a smooth sail in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Supplementary Demand for Grants is a constitutional obligation and this batch included additional allocation of Rs 3,500 crore for Price Stabilisation Fund, Rs 3,252 crore for implementation of One-Rank, One-Pension among others.
Earlier, Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of principal opposition party Congress, raised the issue of absence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when Meghwal rose to reply to the debate.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Meghwal is Minister of State for Finance and can reply to any query raised by members.
Kharge then asked Meghwal to say if the government would limit farm loan waiver scheme to a few states only.
Meghwal did not give a direct reply, following which Congress members staged a walk-out.