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No proposal to recognize Bitcoin as a currency, says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

The government has no proposal to recognize Bitcoin as the country’s currency, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a response to the Lok Sabha on Monday.

She also informed the house that the government is not collecting any data on Bitcoin transactions.

Whether the government has a proposal to recognize Bitcoin as a currency in the country, the finance minister said “no sir”.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that enables people to buy goods and services and exchange money without the involvement of banks, credit card issuers, or other third parties.

It was introduced as a cryptocurrency as well as an electronic payment system in 2008 by an unidentified group of programmers. It is reportedly the first decentralized digital currency that allows peer-to-peer transactions with no middlemen.

In the meantime, the government plans to introduce the law on cryptocurrency and the regulation of official digital currency in 2021 at the current winter session of parliament. The bill aims to ban all but a few private cryptocurrencies in order to promote the underlying technologies while allowing an official digital currency of the RBI.

In response to another question, Ms. Sitharaman said ministries and departments spent 2.29 lakh crore as capital expenditures during the April-September period of the current fiscal year.

That is 41 percent of the budget estimate (BE) of Rs 5.54 lakh crore for 2021-22. Actual spending during the current budget is about 38 percent higher than the corresponding spending in FY2020-21, she said.

In order to accelerate capital expenditures for the creation and modernization of infrastructure in the economy, the Government of India had launched the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) with a planned infrastructure investment of Rs 111 lakh crore in the period 2020-2025 in order to provide world-class infrastructure in the across the country and improve the quality of life for all citizens.

NIP started with 6,835 projects that have grown to over 9,000 projects covering 34 subsectors. NIP is expected to improve project preparation, attract investment in infrastructure and play a vital role in economic growth, she said.

The National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) was also launched on August 23, 2021 to unlock the value of investing in public sector assets by unlocking the private sector capital and efficiency for the provision of infrastructure services, she said and added that monetization proceeds will be plowed back to expand existing infrastructure / create new infrastructure to stimulate the economy.

Gati Shakti (National Master Plan for Infrastructure Development) was then launched on October 13, 2021 as a digital platform to bring together ministries / departments for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.

It will also facilitate the connectivity of the infrastructure on the last mile and reduce travel time for people, she added.

Regarding inflation, the finance minister said that the government regularly monitors the price situation of the main raw materials and that corrective measures are taken from time to time.

“The upward trend in inflation has been largely led by exogenous factors, namely increased international prices for crude oil and edible oils, which are affecting domestic inflation due to India’s dependence on imports of these goods,” she said.

The rise in WPI inflation is also mainly driven by “fuel and electricity” and industrial product inflation, again fueled by the rise in global crude oil prices and the rise in international commodity / input prices, she said.

The government has taken several supply-side measures to contain inflationary pressures, she said.

To review gasoline and diesel prices, Ms. Sitharaman said the central government had reduced the central excise tax on gasoline and diesel by 5 rupees and 10 rupees, respectively, effective November 4, 2021.

“In response, many state governments have also lowered sales taxes on gasoline and diesel, so retail prices for gasoline and diesel are sobering,” she said.

As an additional price control measure, India has agreed to release 5 million barrels of crude oil from its strategic petroleum reserves, she said, adding that this release will come in parallel and in consultation with other major global energy consumers, including the US, People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic Korea.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and will be posted via a syndicated feed.)

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