Thanks to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the term "minor inconvenience" has entered the jargon of Indian business for good.
Having used this phrase to justify the difficulties faced by the people since Prime Minister Narendra Modi executed his plan of demonetising high-value currency notes, Jaitley clarified his position further.
Speaking at the Made in Odisha conclave yesterday, he said the move to ban old bank notes will affect the masses for one or two quarters but its advantages would be long-term.
When the PM announced his decision, he had assured the nation of adequate measures being taken to deal with the possible repercussions of such a drastic policy change. What the people experienced instead were serpentine queues, devious ways of converting black money into white and even deaths induced by stress. And now, ordinary citizens, who were hopeful of the situation turning normal from early 2017, have been just informed by their finance minister that the wait could grow longer.
At the conference, Jaitley also urged the media and the entire political establishment to usher in changes in their working styles. "Our journalists just focus on the painful aspect of every situation ignoring its socio-economic background and hard work in implementing it," he said, possibly referring to the coverage of the woes of demonetisation. He praised Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha, for supporting the Goods and Services tax (GST) as well as demonetisation.
Since the currency ban, only about 50% of the ministers in the government have declared their cash holdings, including Jaitley, who had a staggering ₹65 lakhs on him, and the prime minister, whose funds were of a more modest ₹89,700. According to investigations carried out by The Hindu, at least 23 ministers declared they had under ₹2 lakhs in cash, while 15 held cash in excess of ₹2.5 lakhs.
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