When all CMs skipped Chief Ministers’ committee’s meet on cashless economy


The Chief Ministers’ committee on digital payments, set up following the demonetisation drive and headed by Andhra Pradesh’s Chandrababu Naidu, will submit its interim report to the Centre within the next 2 to 3 days.

Naidu, who is the convener of the committee, met with the Reserve Bank brass and top bankers here to review the ground-level situation following the demonetisation drive launched on November 8.

After the maiden meeting of the panel, that was skipped by all other six Chief Ministers, mostly from the BJP States, a statement from Naidu’s office said they have decided to submit an interim report on the ongoing cash recall exercise to the Centre within the next 2 to 3 days.

Asked about Chief Ministers skipping the important meet, an official from Naidu’s office told PTI in Amaravati, AP’s new capital, that the member-CMs were informed of the meeting but not invited.

Apart from Naidu, the other Chief minister in the 13- member panel are Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, Shivraj Singh Chouhan of MP, Sikkim’s Pawan Kumar Chamling, Congress chief minister of Puducherry V Narayanasamy and Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis.

The other members/special invitees are NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, and its Chief Executive Amitabh Kant, Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of UIDAI, Janmejaya Sinha of BCG, Rajesh Jain of netCore, Sharad Sharma of iSpirit and Jayant Varma, professor of finance at IIM- Ahmedabad.

The panel was formed last month-end to outline measures to promote digital payment systems to promote transparency, financial inclusion and also prepare a road-map for the same.

The Centre set up the panel to suggest measures to normalise the situation in the wake of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes.

The statement from Naidu’s office said the committee is exploring the possibility of adopting technology to simplify digital payment procedures. He said the best practices followed across the world will be incorporated.

Naidu said this process of consultations is on with all State Governments, banks, engineers, technologists and service providers.

Stating that a large number of cellphone users are using the Internet, Naidu called for making digital payment a mass movement.

Naidu said the main thrust of today’s meeting with bankers was how to make it possible to enable the delivery of low denomination currency to the common man.

Naidu admitted there is a problem of connectivity in rural areas, which should be addressed. The Andhra CM also said the RBI has assured them that new Rs 500 notes will be made adequately available by December 15.

The meeting reviewed the ground-level scenario a month after the high value banknotes were banned.

The bankers who attended the meeting were SBI chair Arundhati Bhattacharya, ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar, Aditya Puri of HDFC Bank, Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma and PS Jayakumar of Bank of Baroda. National Payments Corporation chief A P Hota was also present.

Coming out of the meeting, Axis Bank’s Sharma told reporters that the panel discussed how to widen the use of existing infrastructure such as Aadhaar-enabled systems, unified payment interface (UPI), points of sale (PoS) and unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), to improve digitisation, apart from building additional infra for a cashless economy at the state-level.