New delhi : While the immediate impact of demonetisation was seen in the long queues outside ATMs and felt through acute cash shortage, its anniversary is an appropriate vantage point to assess the less visible and generalised effect on the economy of what was easily the most disruptive measure post-Independence. The difficulty in making a cost-benefit analysis is that the move was not purely economic, given the fact that the currency issuer Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had no role in the decision, as testified by former Governor Raghuram Rajan. So demonetisation comes across more as a measure of political economy with the declared objective of curbing black money and countering counterfeiting and terror finance, and which appeared to have paid political dividend to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Uttar Pradesh elections this year.
Starting with the official figures, at the end of May, the Central Statistics Office announced that GDP during the fourth quarter, ending March this year, fell sharply to 6.1 per cent from seven per cent in the previous quarter, while growth for the year as a whole was also expected to decline correspondingly. India’s GDP during the past fiscal grew at 7.1 per cent, at a rate lower than the 8 per cent achieved in 2015-16. In terms of gross value added (GVA), which excludes taxes but includes subsidies, the growth came in even lower at 5.6 percent over the GVA for 2015-16.
Chief Statistician T.C.A. Anant sought to downplay the impact of the note ban, saying he “would caution against reading a single number that comes out after an event as being reflective of consequences of the event”. At the time of releasing the previous quarter’s GDP, he had said that this was based on figures on industrial production and only on the advance filings of corporates. The numbers, therefore, had not factored in the informal economy.
- GDP growth has sharply fallen to touch 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of this financial year on the back of note ban
- RBI, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had lowered India’s growth estimates for 2016-17 by up to 1 percent, citing the impact of demonetisation