Biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has said the demonetisation of high-value currency notes is an opportunity to leapfrog into a digital cashless economy, even as she called for a effective monitoring to prevent accumulation of fresh black money.
The CMD of Biocon Ltd, which was rated among the world’s top ten employers in the biotechnology industry by an international magazine recently, said she is confident that the demonetised currency would be replaced by the new notes reasonably soon.
“The objectives of flushing out counterfeit currency, illicit funding of businesses and illicit activities including extremism and terrorism and ‘havala’ transactions will certainly be achieved,” Mazumdar-Shaw told PTI.
Demonetisation would also serve to be a deterrent to corruption in the short-term. “However, what remains to be seen is for how long can we stave off the re-emergence of black money,” she said.
Stating that certain businesses would be temporarily affected, especially real estate and jewellery, among others, following the move, Mazumdar-Shaw said she is confident that agriculture and SMEs would recover.
“Most importantly, I see this as an opportunity to leapfrog into a digital cashless economy,” she said.
On measures needed to prevent accumulation of fresh black money, Mazumdar-Shaw said: “That’s really what needs tracking and a strong monitoring strategy.”
Asked if she thought the move would make only a limited dent as those who have kept unaccounted money in the form of gold or real estate “escape”, Mazumdar-Shaw said she does believe that the sudden and unexpected act of demonetisation would flush out significant illicit cash as not every thing would be invested in real estate and gold.
“However, there is likely to be downward revision in real estate pricing and hopefully gold, which is good for the economy as it will spur purchasing power,” she said.
“That’s a concern I have as I am not convinced that corruption can be completely weeded out,” she responded when asked if she thought corruption can be fully eliminated.
“The mind-set has to shift. It is too deeply engraved in business practices,” she added.
On whether cash donations to political parties should stop, Mazumdar-Shaw — who was recently conferred with the highest French civil distinction ‘Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur’ (Knight of the Legion of Honour) — said: “No. In fact, we should make sure there is a complete transparency in political funding,” adding, political parties should be brought under the ambit of RTI.