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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, Aadhaar Spurred Digital Payments Growth: RBI

Pointing to a major area for improvement, the study showed that only three per cent of the population in India used the Internet to pay utility bills in 2017

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

After the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in 2016 pushed digital payments, Aadhaar-enabled electronic know your customer (eKYC) resulted in an exponential growth of such payments in the country, according to a new report by the Reserve Bank of India.

Transactions in which both the payer and the payee use digital modes to send and receive money are referred to as digital or electronic payments.

India recorded an accelerated growth rate of over 50 per cent in the volume of retail electronic payment transactions in the last four years, said the report titled “Benchmarking India’s Payment Systems”.

The growth in 2018-19 was largely due to the steep growth in Unified Payments Interface (UPI), it added.

“In India, the smartphone revolution has seen an explosion in digital payment options, from e-Money to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to a combination of the two. After demonetisation, the use of e-Money picked up on a very large scale,” the findings showed.

The digital landscape changed with higher usage of e-Money, UPI, Aadhaar Payments Bridge System (APBS), RuPay, and Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), among others.

With 3,459 million e-Money transactions, India was only behind Japan and the US (data on China not available) in 2017 with respect to volume of e-Money transactions, the report said.

The study revealed that over the years, the number of debit and credit cards also increased considerably in India.

Aadhaar Card Reader Logo. Source: Wikimedia

India had 331.60 million and 19.55 million debit and credit cards respectively at the end of 2012. The numbers grew to 861.7 million and 37.49 million respectively at the end of 2017.

By March 31, 2019, the number of debit and credit cards issued were 925 million and 47 million, respectively.

However, the study showed that the cost of digital transactions was a factor inhibiting their growth.

Merchants have to cash out or transfer to their banks accounts at a cost and at times these costs are passed on to the consumer.

“A few countries have tried to regulate costs to ensure that the charges are not usurious, but the jury is still out on whether such a regulation promotes the growth of digital payments. With banks pushing and merchants pulling, it isn’t clear if such caps will discourage the use of cash,” the report added.

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Pointing to a major area for improvement, the study showed that only three per cent of the population in India used the Internet to pay utility bills in 2017.

The report compared the payment ecosystem in India with the systems and usage trends in other major countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Britain and the US. (IANS)