80 Per Cent Of Total Old Notes, Back In Banks: RBI

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New Delhi: Banks have received 12.44 lakh crores or $184.24 billion in old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes till December 10, since the currency ban, the Reserve Bank of India said today. It also said that banks have so far issued 4.61 lakh crores in new currency to people over the counter and through ATMs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 announced the ban on high value currency, aimed at bringing back unaccounted money into the system, curb fake currency circulation and deter terror financing. It wiped out 86 per cent of the money in circulation.

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The money deposited so far – 12.44 lakh crores – is about 80 per cent of the 15.44 lakh crores that were circulating in 500 and 1,000 rupee notes when PM Modi announced the ban. Analysts had estimated that only about 13 lakh crore of those abolished notes would be deposited in banks, because people with undeclared cash would be wary of attracting the scrutiny of tax authorities.

Economists say that total deposits are likely to reach about 13 to 13.5 lakh crores by the December end deadline for people to deposit old notes, in line with the estimates.

The central bank said today that it has, since the notes ban, printed about 1.7 billion new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes and 20.1 billion pieces of 10, 20, 50 and 100 rupee notes. A total 24 billion 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were withdrawn.

The notes ban has led to a massive cash shortage that has hit many aspects of the economy, from manufacturing to consumer demand. According to experts, consumer spending makes up 55 per cent of India’s economy, which has taken a hit as most people prefer cash payments over digital modes like debit or credit cards.

The central bank said while it will continue to print and issue more new notes daily, people must not hoard the new notes they get from banks and must use them freely.

It has asked banks to preserve CCTV recordings of operations at bank branches and currency chests since November 8 till December 30, to scrutinise depositors and help law enforcement agencies identify “illegal accumulation of new currency notes”.

There have been over 200 searches across the country for black money since the notes ban and crores have been found in new 2,000-rupee notes. Among those who have been booked are some bank officials.

RBI Deputy Governor SS Mundra said that a central bank official arrested in Bengaluru for “unauthorised changing” of more than 1.50 crores in old 500 and 1,000 rupees notes was a junior official who had been “suspended” because “he was recorded to be present in a bank branch where some suspected transaction was happening”.

The RBI said that it has instructed the banks to conduct central data checking and take action against officials found involved in unlawful activities. “Banks have taken action against errant officials. Banks must investigate when the data is suspicious,” said Mr Mundra.

He denied reports that the RBI had issued a show-cause notice to Axis Bank and was planning to cancel its banking licence following allegations of malpractices in currency exchange at many of its branches.

 

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