House panel members lament stalled demonetisation report

Committee’s majority BJP members objected to the draft report’s critical tone

February 16, 2019 09:50 pm | Updated 09:54 pm IST - New Delhi

Photo: Lok Sabha website

Photo: Lok Sabha website

With the 16th Lok Sabha nearing the end of its term, the contentious report of the Standing Committee on Finance on the impact of demonetisation is most likely going to end up never seeing the light of day. Several of the panel’s members are unhappy that the report is not being released despite the amount of time, effort and resources spent on preparing it.

Though the committee finalised a draft way back in March last year, the report could not be finalised due to objections from the BJP members who are in a majority in the committee headed by Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily. The Congress and other Opposition parties were outnumbered on the panel, with the BJP having 17 MPs in the 31-member committee . The draft report had been critical of the government’s decision and concluded that demonetisation had contributed to derailing the economy. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is among the members on the committee.

‘Very unfortunate’

“It is very unfortunate that we spared so much of the country’s resources deliberating effects of demonetisation, called the Governor [of the RBI] and several high-ranking officials several times,” Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi told The Hindu . “We had the draft report also ready but unfortunately it did not see the light of the day which as committee we were duty-bound to present to people through Parliament,” Mr. Trivedi said. The RBI Governor had been called at least twice to discuss the impact of demonetisation.

AIADMK member T.G. Venkatesh Babu said that it was unfortunate that the report could not be tabled. “The report should have been tabled and it is sad that it could not be. But I hope the next government is able to use the work done by our committee,” he added.

The day the elections are notified, the Lok Sabha is considered dissolved and with it the existing committees too. Also, even though the Lok Sabha is not sitting, the committee can send the report to the Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan, and it can be considered tabled if she accepts the report.

The panel has a few weeks before the Election Commission announces the election schedule. While sources said there was only a slim chance of the report being made public, Mr. Moily remained optimistic. “Hopefully, we will be able to finalise it,” he said.

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