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EC should raise limit of free cash movement to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 50,000 to stop harassment: Assocham
Genuine business men, particularly those engaged in trading activity, are facing harassment at the hands of state police authorities as they mechanically follow instructions of the Election Commission mandating that any cash above Rs 50,000 should be explained by documentary evidence, industry body Assocham said, making a strong appeal to the poll panel that the limit be increased at least to Rs five lakh.

“It is not only the traders but also the ordinary households who have become wary of this rule. The worse is that not many are even aware of this EC guideline and in the process many genuine common-people and small traders carrying this much or a little more cash have been subjected to unnecessary harassment and even confiscation of cash,” the Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said in a statement.

Citing examples, the Assocham Secretary General said an ordinary household getting repairs done in his home or even for new construction underway would need to move away at least a couple of lakhs for purchasing of essential construction material-wood boards, distempers, etc, but he could be intercepted and asked tens of questions.

Similar is the case for buying household goods- LCD TVs, refrigerators, air-conditioners etc….for which you need to take cash out of your home. “Though it is desirable, we have a long way to go before we completely move away from the cash economy to cheques and plastic money. Here the credit penetration /acceptance at the merchandise is low while the retailers do not accept the cheques too happily, again for the fear of harassment by taxmen,” the Assocham Secretary General said.

The sale at the jewellery stores, especially in the unbranded outlets, has also been affected due the cash movement restrictions, the reports from the Assocham constituent trade bodies have shown.

The problems are also being faced for shoppers doing shopping for the weddings. “Women, mostly in the smaller cities go with cash to do marriage shopping….”

As per the Election Commission guidelines, any private individual who may or may not be a business person need to carry documentary proofs when hetravels with more than Rs 50,000 in cash.He or she  needs to explain the legal source and end use of money. Frequent travellers who are hopping in and out of big and metro cities day in and day out are facing the problems even more since they are under a special scanner at the airports, etc.

“Though more and more business executives in the organised sector use the credit cards, but still you need cash, what is the real worth of Rs 50,000? While the Election Commission’s intentions are noble and the Assocham would support the case for tough actions against use of illegal and unaccounted money for elections, the common citizens should not be facing problems in the process,” the chamber said.

Additionally, the Election process is being stretched to two full months increasing the woes of the businessmen.

“On a realistic basis, the limit of free cash movement during Election times should be raised to Rs five lakh,” Mr Rawat said.

Also the interceptors should be from the designated departments. “You cannot allow each and every police constable at every police check-post to carry out searches. In the process the unscrupulous are making hay….” the chamber said expressing concern.

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