Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac on Sunday described as “sheer madness” the massive rush for money at banks and ATMs and warned that this could lead to mass poverty.
The economics professor-turned-politician said he was shocked to hear Finance Minister Arun Jaitley argue that it will take a month for normalcy to return in the banking sector.
“By now things have gone haywire. Wages have not been paid in the plantation sector in Kerala. If this is going to last a week, then it will be abject poverty in the state. This is sheer madness,” he said.
Issac had come under fire in the social media when he criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s November 8 decision to spike Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currencies. He said his worst fears were now coming true.
Like in the past few days, Sunday also saw serpentine queues in front of banks and ATMs in the state as people tried to surrender the old currency and withdraw their own money.
But many ATMs were still not working. The ones that were functional ran out of cash, leaving many shattered.
Now the money spinning tourism industry in Kerala has started to feel the heat.
Kerala Tourism Development Corp Chairman M. Vijayakumar told IANS that around 40 per cent of their bookings had been cancelled.
“The tourism industry is heading for an unprecedented crisis as the fresh peak tourist season in the state is November to January,” said Vijayakumar, a CPI-M leader and a former Speaker.
“The stage has come when tourists will spend more time waiting in front of ATMs than exploring Kerala,” he said.
Another segment that has come under stress is the nearly 2.5 million migrant labourers in Kerala.
“We have not received our weekly wages that we normally get every Saturday. We are unable to do any job as we stand in queues in front of ATMs,” said a labourer from Assam.