As govt prepares to table cryptocurrency bill, PM Modi’s remarks


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for united efforts to shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies so that they are used to “empower democracy and not to undermine” it.

“We must also jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies, so that they are used to empower democracy, not to undermine it,” PM Modi said during his virtual address at the Summit for Democracy hosted by US President Joe Biden.

Also watch | At Biden’s summit, PM bats for norms to counter threats posed by cryptocurrency

The government has said it plans to table a reworked bill on cryptocurrency in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament after Cabinet approves it and that income earned from investing in cryptocurrencies is taxable.

“A bill on Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency for introduction in the Lok Sabha has been included in the Lok Sabha Bulletin-Part II as part of government business expected to be taken up,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the House on November 30.

The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 seeks “to create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)”. The cryptocurrency bill also seeks to ban all private cryptocurrencies while allowing “for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.”

Also read | New cryptocurrency bill to be tabled after Cabinet nod: Sitharaman in Parliament

PM Modi’s comments on Friday comes after he urged on November 18 democratic nations to work together to ensure that the cryptocurrency does not end up in the wrong hands.

In the same month, the Prime Minister also chaired a meeting on the way forward for cryptocurrency and related issues.

According to reports, officials during the meeting with PM Modi said attempts to mislead the youth through over-promising, non-transparent advertising must be stopped and unregulated crypto markets cannot be allowed to become avenues for money laundering and terror financing.

Also read | Let’s ensure cryptocurrency doesn’t end up in wrong hands, says PM Modi

There was a consensus that the steps taken by the government in this field will be “progressive and forward-looking” and it will continue to proactively engage with the experts and other stakeholders, news agency PTI reported.

The government has also formed an inter-ministerial committee on virtual currencies that submitted its report along with a draft bill in 2019.

Last week, Nirmala Sitharaman also called for a “collective global action” for effective regulation of ever-changing technology and tech-driven payment systems. She said regulators are only “catching-up” in regulating ever-evolving technology and hence there is no one point formula with which it can be regulated.

Also read | In PM Modi’s meet on crypto, concerns expressed over terror-financing

“Even as we are thinking about at a national level, there should simultaneously be a global mechanism through which we are constantly monitoring the movement of technology, so that whether it is your cryptocurrency, whether it is a tech-driven payment system, data privacy, whether it is ensuring that data is used ethically,” she said in a panel discussion on December 3.

“When you are looking at data as one of the revenue-generating options, to regulate it will have to be a collective effort,” Sitharaman said.

The cryptocurrency bill is among 26 new bills on the agenda of the government in the Winter Session of Parliament that began on November 29 and end on December 23.

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