India’s PM defends shift to cashless society

India’s PM defends shift to cashless society

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on before launching a digital payment app linked with a nationwide biometric database during the “DigiDhan” fair, in New Delhi, India, December 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

On Friday Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended his move to turn India into a cashless society while speaking at the launch of a digital payment app linked with a nationwide biometric database.

(NEW DELHI, INDIA) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday defended his decision to withdraw high denomination bank notes from circulation, as a deadline to end severe cash shortages passed with Indians still queuing at banks to deposit savings and withdraw money.

Modi abolished 500 and 1,000 rupee bills on Nov. 8, taking out 86 percent of cash in circulation, in a bid to fight corruption, end terror financing and turn India into a cashless society.

The move, however, caused a major cash crunch as the government struggled to replace old notes with new 500 and 2,000 rupee bills. Modi had asked for 50 days, until the end of this month, to ease the crisis.

Speaking in New Delhi at the launch of a digital payment app linked with a nationwide biometric database, Modi exhorted Indians to reduce their dependence on cash.

“The world is surprised to see the way we’ve overcome the challenge after 86 percent of cash was withdrawn,” Modi said.

He is expected to address the nation on New Year’s Eve to further talk about so-called “demonetization”.

Reuters copy, TRUNEWS analysis

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