The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state has prepared a road map to boost cashless transactions over the next two months, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the state assembly on Wednesday.
As part of the plan, the government aims to make public distribution system (PDS) cashless, provide point of sale (POS) machines in 30,000 villages so that farmers can make purchases without having to pay in cash, and also start Maha-Wallet, an e-wallet service, so that citizens can carry out transactions through their phones, Fadnavis said.
The CM strongly defended the Prime Minister’s decision to scrap Rs500 and Rs1000 notes, saying that it would curb the flow of black money. He also lashed out at the previous government for lapses in initiating measures to curb the black money menace.
Under the PDS, the government supplies fuel (kerosene), foodgrain and other essential commodities like sugar to poor families at subsidised rates. In rural areas, it is a major source for lower middle class families. The government is also planning to provide biometric ration cards to weed out fake cards that are used for black marketing foodgrains and fuel meant for PDS.
Further, POS will be made available at 30,000 citizen facilitation centres in villages for farmers. Fadnavis added that all state government initiatives will gradually go cashless. The government plans to train 1,000 college students as volunteers to educate citizens about cashless transactions.
Fadnavis dismissed allegations that foreign-linked payment gateways, such as PaytTM, were controlled by China or the Alibaba group. He said that there was no question of any apprehension of foreign country involvement.
Responding to the Opposition’s concern that the rural economy in Maharashtra is getting affected due to the Centre’s decision to not allow rural cooperative banks to conduct transactions in demonetised currency, Fadnavis said he would be leading a delegation of all party leaders on Thursday to meet Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and request for restrictions on cooperative banks to be lifted.
Earlier, launching a scathing attack on the BJP-led government at centre over demonetisation, the opposition in both the Houses of the state legislature accused the government of making lives difficult for the rural population by banning acceptance of high-value notes in cooperative banks.
Initiating the debate in the state assembly under rule 101, former chief minister and senior Congress member Prithviraj Chavan pointed out that by banning the transactions by cooperative banks, the Union government was destroying the rural economy.
He alleged that the decision was taken with an eye on the Assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. “Can the BJP and Fadnavis say under oath that the black money was not used in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014? “Did they use debit and credit cards for electioneering?” Chavan quipped. Attacking the ruling party, Chavan said that surprisingly, the government was promoting foreign linked payment gateways like Paytm.
Ridiculing the cashless economy, Chavan said nowhere in the world had the cashless economy been fully implemented.
Countering Chavan ,Fadnavis said the previous government had failed to ratify a United Nations treaty on black money which was waiting since 2004.Between 2004 to 2011, BJP led government at the Centre signed the treaty, thereby allowing access to accounts of all Indians in foreign banks.
The opposition also came down heavily on the government over the issue in the upper house of the legislature.