THE Centre’s move to bring a bill in the Parliament to bar all but a few cryptocurrencies and create a framework to regulate digital currency is borne out of concerns about national security and monetary sovereignty. After the meek first wave a few years ago, cryptocurrency has gained solid foothold across the world even as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept raising red-flag about the use of the digital currency and the blockchain technology it uses. RBI’s concerns about use of cryptocurrency cannot be brushed away, for, it can possibly pose a grave threat to macroeconomic and financial stability of the country. The Centre has to tread with extreme caution over granting legal status to cryptocurrencies while putting in place strong regulatory steps to deal with the issue. There is every possibility of the technology giving an unfair advantage for shady deals to fund terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering given the absence of a legal trail of accounts, deposits and transaction in many private cryptocurrencies. The Centre has done well to take the middle path between total ban and ignorance to facilitate a framework for creation of an official digital currency to be issued by the RBI itself.
MESSAGE TO OPEC
REELING under the adamant stand of the Organisation of Petrol Exporting Countries (OPEC) on increasing oil production, a small but influential group of countries, including India, is taking a unique route to send a message across to the oil producers that there would be alternatives to the current crude oil problem. Major economies like the United States, Japan, India, China and South Korea have come together to release crude oil from their emergency stockpiles to cool international oil prices. The move has come after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) refused to accommodate the urgent plea by the US and India to increase oil production to bring down crude oil prices in international market. The OPEC obstinacy on oil production has led to exponential rise in crude prices making fuel prices jump to unimaginable highs in the oil-dependent countries. As per the plan, India will release 5 million barrels of crude oil from its strategic reserves. The amount may not be too high (It is about a single day consumption in the country) but the symbolism of the move cannot be missed by the bloc of oil-rich economies. It is time for a united approach to redress the problem.