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Blockade and Demonetisation by United Naga Council Squeezes Trade among Tribals on India-Myanmar Border

Over 60,000 non-local businessmen at Moreh at one point of time, hardly 10,000 are left behind now

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Indian Currency, Pixabay

Imphal, November 27, 2016: The legalised border trade among tribals on the India-Myanmar international border continues to be hit by the blockade the United Naga Council has imposed since November 1 against Manipur, as well as the demonetization by India.

The Naga Council protesters are agitated over the Manipur government’s move to create a Sadar Hills district, fearing that some Naga-dominant lands might be included in the proposed district.

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The traditional trade worth crores of rupees among tribals on either side of the international border was legalised in 1995, bringing in considerable revenue to the exchequer.

The border trade centres are at Moreh in Manipur and Namphalong and Tamu in Myanmar.

The Centre’s November 8 decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has only added to the border traders’ woes.

Ibopishak, a trader, said: “Myanmarese traders earlier freely accepted Indian rupees for transactions at Namphalong and Tamu (in Myanmar), at the locally fixed (illegal) foreign exchange rate of Rs 100 for 1,900 kyat (Myanmar currency). However, after the demonetisation, it has fallen to Rs 100 for 800 kyat.”

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The banks and the only two automated teller machines at Moreh are dry of cash for the last few days.

A south Indian who has set up his business at Moreh told IANS that he is seriously thinking of shifting out to the Mizoram-Myanmar border as there are no disruptions in business in Mizoram as in Manipur by the Nagas.

He rued that some tribal groups in Manipur are in the habit of imposing blockades and general strikes along the highways to choke the northeastern state.

Another businessman, Lakshman, said: “The border markets are shut down. Apart from shortage of high-denomination notes, one cannot take anything from Moreh to other parts of India due to the Naga economic blockade.”

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Shamir Hussain, a businessman, said of the over 60,000 non-local businessmen at Moreh at one point of time, hardly 10,000 are left behind now. The remaining have gone elsewhere to conduct their trade and business.

A small trader, Rashmi Bib, said: “Extortion is also responsible for declining business. There are over 14 checkposts and police stations on 60-km Moreh-Pallel route, where traders have to pay a percentage of the goods bought from Myanmar. There are some more checkpoints on the remaining 40 km between Pallel and Imphal.” (IANS)

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Demonetisation Anniversary: BJP acts cheeky, releases new video showing Frustration of ‘Corrupt’ Politicians following Demonetisation

The one-minute video, which is now going viral on social media, has already been re-tweeted more than 2 thousand times since it was released on November 7, on the eve of demonetization move.

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Demonetisation Anniversary
Screen grab of the sarcastic video released by BJP to mark Demonetisation Anniversary. Twitter

New Delhi, November 8, 2017 : On November 8 2016, every Indian citizen sat glued to their TV screens as Narendra Modi was set to make a big announcement. Outcome? The Indian Prime Minster shocked the entire nation with the introduction of Demonetisation, a move that was to change the very foundation of the cash-dependent Indian economy.

The much-debated move by Modi garnered the attention of several well-versed economists from the country and abroad, alike. While some people willingly welcomed the move, there were others who stood in staunch criticism.

As the move completes its first year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to observe November 8 as ‘anti-black money day’ to celebrate Demonetisation anniversary in the country.

On the eve of the Demonetisation anniversary, the BJP released a cheeky video claiming to depict how ‘corrupt’ politicians have been criticizing the move, as the nation won following demonetisation.

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In the video, the BJP attempted to take a dig at corrupt politicians, who have been criticizing PM Modi’s Demonetisation move.

In the video, a woman, playing the character of a frustrated, corrupt politician can be seen going on a rant over PM Modi’s note ban initiative, which was aimed to combat black money, corruption, fake currency and terrorism.

The video ends with a voice-over saying demonetisation has not only brought out this frustration of corrupt citizens, but also black-money, claiming that almost 99 per cent cash which was previously lying hidden with people has now entered the banking system.

The one-minute video, which is now going viral on social media, has already been re-tweeted more than 2 thousand times since it was released on November 7, on the eve of demonetization move.

Ahead of the Demonetisation anniversary, the last few days have witnessed several leaders present their opinions on PM Modi’s demonetization move.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called PM Modi’s note ban initiative a ‘watershed moment’ while Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways believes the move has pushed India towards a more transparent economy.

However, the move is being criticized by ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling it ‘irresponsible’. The opposition maintains that PM Modi’s note ban initiative has caused reckless damage to the country and the Indian economy.

On Demonetisation anniversary, the BJP is set to observe November 8 as ‘anti-black money day’, while opposition leaders are set to observe the day as ‘black day’ in protest against the note ban initiative.

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RBI maynot have been Authorised to Issue Currency Notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 200

the Reserve Bank Of India (RBI) does not seem to have any official records to prove that it had authorised the issue of new currency notes in denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 200, after demonetisation

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Reserve Bank of India doesnot have any proof to have been authorised to issue currency notes. Wikimedia.

Mumbai, Oct 28: In what could be a bizarre situation, the Reserve Bank Of India (RBI) does not seem to have any official records to prove that it had authorised the issue of new currency notes in denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 200, after demonetisation, according to documents available through RTI.

“As per RTI replies provided by the RBI, the country’s central bank has apparently not published any Government Resolution (GR) or a circular till date to issue the new Rs 2,000 and recently, the Rs 200 currency notes,” says Mumbai-based RTI activist M.S. Roy.

Authorised to Issue Currency Notes.
Rs. 2000 note was issued by RBI who maynot ahve been Authorised to Issue Currency Notes. Wikimedia.

A May 19, 2016 document — roughly around six months before demonetisation — shows that the RBI’s Central Board of Directors approved a proposal put forth by its Executive Director on May 18, 2016.

This (proposal) pertained to the new designs, dimensions and denominations of future Indian bank notes, and the Board resolved to forward it to the central government for approval, as per extracts of the minutes of that Board meeting.

Essentially, this was carrying forward an earlier such proposal made on July 08, 1993 to introduce a new family of Indian bank notes of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500 of reduced sizes.

This old proposal (July 08, 1993) was approved at an RBI Central Board Of Directors meeting on July 15, 1993 as per a memorandum dated August 3, 1993 sent from RBI’s Central Office, Mumbai, to the Chief Officer, Department Of Currency Manager (RBI Mumbai), which was signed by the then Executive Director, A P Aiyer.

As per that proposal (of July 8, 1993), these new Indian currency notes of reduced size were to incorporate several fresh and enhanced security features in order to check counterfeiting, according to the same August 3, 1993 memorandum (quoted above).

Roy had also filed a separate RTI query on February 27, 2017, asking for documentation about photographs of Mahatma Gandhi which are not being printed on the Re 1 notes, but were being printed on all currency notes of denominations ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 2,000.

In reply to this particular query, the RBI provided resolutions of its board meetings held on July 15, 1993, July 13, 1994 and May 19, 2016.

authorised to issue currency notes
RBI had issued notes with no proof if authorised to issue currency notes. Wikimedia.

However, these resolutions talk about design features merely for Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500, all of which bear the photographs of the Father of the Nation.

None of these RBI board resolutions make any references about design features or Mahatma Gandhi photographs for denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 2,000 and now, the latest entrant to the Indian bank notes family, the Rs 200 currency note.

Hence, Roy said that if the RBI board resolutions never even discussed design features or Mahatma Gandhi photographs to be incorporated in Rs 1,000 notes (discontinued after demonetisation), Rs 2,000 denomination notes (introduced on November 8, 2016) and the subsequent Rs 200 notes (introduced in mid-2017), it clearly indicates that no official approval was granted.

He questioned that if no approval was granted for issuing these denominations, who authorised these denominations, their design, printing and distribution.

“If there has been no approval by the RBI Board, no supporting GR or any other known documentation in the public domain, then there is a big question mark about the legal validity and official (monetary) status of these notes — namely Rs.200 and Rs.2,000. The matter merits an independent investigation,” Roy said.

However, if such approvals do indeed exist, then the RBI and government must explain why these documents were not made available despite an RTI query or why they were not in the public domain. (IANS)

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Demonetisation has Beneficiary Long Term Impact on Real Estate with Initiatives of RERA and GST

The transparency brought in by demonetisation, aided by RERA, GST reforms and liberalisation of FDI norms, has boosted the performance by fair Real Estate companies.

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Long Term impact on Real estate has been depicted by Demonetisation.Wikimedia.

New Delhi, October 4: Though the government’s radical measure of demonetisation has disrupted the economy and has hit the real estate sector — already reeling under prolonged slowdown — it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise in the medium-to-long term.

As an asset class, real estate has been a big source of generating and consuming black money. The cash component in real estate has been there at various levels, beginning with land transactions where it amounts to 30-50 per cent. The cash payout is quite high in luxury housing too. The consumption of cash has been as high as 30 per cent in secondary market transactions.

The primary market transactions, however, are by far bereft of cash component as home purchases are financed through loans from banks and housing finance corporations. It is another matter that even in primary market deals, developers have been encouraging cash payouts by luring property buyers with good discounts on property price.

The speculative buying by investors through offerings like underwriting and pre-launches has also been involving cash payout, leading to artificial price hike and in turn making homes out of the reach of masses.

Demonetisation, coupled with the government’s move to check benami transactions through legislation and curbs on cash transactions, was meant to clean up the system.

This sudden ‘shake up’ was, however, not without its adverse impacts. Demonetisation badly affected the liquidity in the capital-intensive real estate sector, deepening the problem of massive fund shortage/cash crunch faced by developers reeling under delayed deliveries, which deterred buyers from purchasing property.

long term impact on Real Estate
There are long term impact on Real Estate due to Demonetisation. Pixabay.

The impact was more evident in markets like NCR and Mumbai which were largely investor-driven, compared to southern markets of Bengaluru and Chennai and even Pune in the west, which have been end-user driven. The premium/luxury residential segment, in which the cash component was more in transactions, got impacted by demonetisation.

Real estate experts’ belief that the impact of demonetisation is only short-term and will not have long-term impact, stems from the fact that developers who have been following transparent and fair practices have not been affected by demonetisation and instead it worked out to their advantage.

This also turned out to be a positive development for big global real estate consultants like JLL India which doubled its profits in 2016 over 2014-15, with 60 per cent revenue growth.

One key positive impact of demonetisation and RERA (Real Estate Regulation Act) has been that speculative investors deserted real estate and end-users/genuine buyers, who were all these years pushed to the sidelines, came out in large numbers. Now, it is the property consumers who are driving the real estate market, especially residential market, aided by the government’s pro-industry and pro-consumer initiatives.

The step to promote affordable housing and according real estate industry status for the purpose of making easy and cheap funds available to the sector also helps.

Demonetisation has particularly boosted foreign funding. The transparency brought in by demonetisation, aided by RERA, GST reforms and liberalisation of FDI norms, has boosted the confidence of foreign investors, which is clearly evident from the spurt in foreign investments, particularly from pension funds.

This will inject much needed liquidity in the sector starved of funds. Targeting consumers, the government under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), is providing substantial interest subsidy to home buyers. The clampdown on floating cash in the system has contributed significantly to curbing inflation which, in turn, helped RBI in cutting interest rates, thereby boosting home buying.

The proposed measures to liberalise FSI norms and rationalise stamp duty, will give further fillip to the residential sector, particularly affordable housing.

Demonetisation had a salutary impact on property prices by curbing cash transactions and checking speculative pricing, in turn increasing affordability, which is a key to achieve the government’s flagship mission of ‘Housing for All’. RERA & GST are further aiding demonetisation to control prices.

long term impact on Real Estate
Demonetisation aided with RERA and GST will put long term impact on Real Estate. Pixabay.

The key provisions in RERA, to speed up project completion, by checking diversion of funds through mandatory escrow account, stringent penalties to check project delays, together with the government’s move to make all building sanctions online, will go a long way in checking time and cost overruns of real estate projects, thereby controlling home prices.

The ban on pre-launching of projects under RERA will also check artificial spurt in pricing. GST has come to tackle the flow of cash in the purchase of building materials by introducing input credit tax. Further, the government’s plans to liberalise FSI norms, especially for affordable homes, and rationalising stamp duty will have a sobering effect on property prices.

But for some little lingering effect, economists and real estate experts believe that the overall downside impact of demonetisation has faded and its impact is not going to be there in the next quarter.

Says Ashwinder Singh, formerly CEO of JLL India & now CEO of leading real estate consultancy, Anarock Consultants: “Other than in terms of the initial confusion-induced decline in sentiment, the trend that is emerging now, points towards a recovery in buying sentiment with serious buyers already returning to primary markets.”

The entire demonetisation exercise undertaken by the government and aided by other reforms, like Benami Property Act, RERA and GST, is to be looked at in the backdrop of the government’s multi-pronged policy to create institutional and regulatory framework for speedy and steady growth of the economy. And at the centre of all these initiatives is real estate, which is a key contributor to GDP. Going forward, these policy initiatives will help make real estate more organised, transparent, credible and affordable, making the sector investor and consumer friendly. (IANS)