Govt says cryptocurrencies not legal tender, will eliminate them

In an effort to curb the proliferation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the government will take steps to eliminate use of cryptocurrencies which are being used to fund illegitimate transactions or as part of the payment system.

“Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and the government discourages its use. However, the government will look at the utilisation of Blockchain (a distributed digital technology that supports cryptocurrencies),” Jaitley said in his Budget speech in Parliament.

Jaitley has repeatedly said that such digital currencies are not legal tender and people dealing in them would not get any legal protection.

With the government looking to adopt Blockchain, the RBI is already considering the possibility of a fiat cryptocurrency which could become an alternative to the Indian rupee for digital transactions.

RBI’s cryptocurrency could form part of its own Blockchain – a distributed digital ledger and technology that supports cryptocurrencies.

The allocation for Digital India scheme has been doubled to Rs 3,073 crore.

Jaitley also said that NITI Aayog will establish a National Programme to direct the government’s efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence towards national development.

He said that mass formalisation of MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sector is happening after demonetisation and GST.

Individual enterprises too will now have a unique ID.

Besides this, five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots will be set up in rural areas to provide easy internet access.

The National Logistics Portal as a single online window to link all stakeholders, will be developed by the Department of Commerce.

As far as the disinvestment target is concerned, Rs 80,000 crore is the target for 2018-19.

There will also be 100% tax deduction for the first five years to companies registered as farmer producer companies with a turnover of Rs 100 crore and above.

The government has identified 372 specific business reform actions to improve ease of doing business and evaluation of performance under this programme will be based on user feedback.

Also, companies with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore will be taxed at 25%.

An amount of Rs 3,794 crore will be allocated to the MSME sector in the form of capital support and interest subsidy by 2022.

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