Asserting that the government fully stood by its November 8 demonetisation, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the decision was needed to "shock the shadow economy" running parallel to the country's economy.
Responding to a lengthy debate in the Rajya Sabha on the 2017-18 General Budget, the minister said that in the last seven decades, Indians have found ways and means to avoid paying taxes.
"As one goes to buy property, he is given two quotations (one with tax and another without tax)," he said, adding that this system needed to be shaken.
Jaitley also criticised the opposition, especially the Congress, for its protests against the demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, saying they "exaggerated" issues related to the ban on high-value currency notes.
"Some said new currency note of Rs 2,000 will be copied and it will lead to more crime," the minister said.
He said crime will continue as long as humanity exists and asked whether cash facilitated crime.
Announcing that the government was expecting to generate Rs 17 lakh crore through direct and indirect taxes during fiscal 2016-17, the minister said: "Only Parliament has the authority to decide how the funds would be used."
"The informal economy is being integrated into the formal one and the size of economy is increasing," he said, adding that it would help government support all welfare and developmental schemes.
Jaitley expressed happiness that the taxation base in India was increasing as more and more people were being brought under the banking system.
He appreciated the government's efforts on Goods and Services Tax and said that almost all decisions related to it vis-a-vis state governments were taken in a "very cordial manner".