India should ban cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Indian billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala told CNBC on Tuesday.
The investor, sometimes referred to as India’s Warren Buffett, asserted he “will never buy bitcoin.”
“I think it’s speculation of the highest order. I don’t want to join every party in town. I think the hangover is much worse,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.
Bitcoin has surged more than 90% so far this year, according to data from Coin Metrics.
Those strong gains have been attributed in part to increased adoption of bitcoin by major investors and companies, including Elon Musk’s Tesla and the Bank of New York Mellon.
India’s regulators have yet to make a decision on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but there’s widespread speculation that the government is planning to ban all private virtual currencies and launch its own official digital currency. During the Parliament Session, Finance Minister Nirmala had told the Rajya Sabha that the government was mulling a law to ban all non-state cryptocurrencies.
“A high-level Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) was constituted under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Economic Affairs) to study the issues related to virtual currencies and propose specific actions to be taken in the matter recommended in its report that all private cryptocurrencies, except any virtual currencies issued by state, will be prohibited in India,” she had said.
“I think regulators should step in and ban bitcoin,” said the investor who is currently a partner at asset management firm Rare Enterprises. “And they should focus on the digital rupee.”
On the outlook for the country, he was optimistic and said he believes India will make a strong recovery based on the reforms and policy initiatives taken by the government in the recent budget.
During the recent budget release, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to step up capital investment and implement financial sector reforms to support India’s battered economy following the pandemic-induced slowdown.
She also said India will need to borrow 800 billion rupees ($10.96 billion) in next two months from the bond market.
The billionaire predicted India will see strong growth in the next year as the country rebounds frozm the pandemic.
“I think India is at the last phase of Covid-19,” he said, adding that the country is likely to grow between 10% to 11% next year.