ATMs Will Be Fully Functional In 2-3 Weeks: Jaitely

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New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is holding a press conference at National Media Centre, New Delhi.

Banks and ATMs on weekend witnessed more chaos and even longer queues as cash-starved people jostled to exchange and withdraw money, even as cash dispensing machines went dry soon after they were stocked due to heavy rush.

Long serpentine queues were witnessed at bank branches for the third straight day across the country. Similarly, people were seen impatiently waiting outside ATMs to withdraw money.

In some States, banks will be open on Mondays, he says.

Government has definite information on terror funding and procurement of weapons, the Finance Minister says.

Cheque is more safe mode of payment, he says.

Government to ask Banking Affairs Secretary for instructions to banks on helping senior citizens in smooth exchange of notes, he says.

More security features in new notes, would be difficult to counterfeit them, he says.

Large wholesalers need not just rely on cash transactions. Our experience in the last two-and-a-half days is that any exception would lead to misuse. No concessions to any section in currency exchange, the Minister says.

Today our energy is concentrated on smooth and quick replacement of money. Enforcement Directorate and other departments concerned keeping close watch on any illegal activities, Jaitley says.

Big regret that people are getting inconvenienced, but currency replacement of this magnitude will cause problems. There are long but orderly queues.There are reports that money has been deposited in Jan Dhan accounts, we will check, says the Minister.

Government appeals that those into businesses start using digital payment gateways, cards and banking system. Life will become simpler, in new financial system that is only viable option, the Minister says.

Currency chest has sufficient cash, which is being transported to banks and post offices, he says.

People spreading rumours, like the one related to salt price. We are keeping close watch in reports of bullion being used to convert cash, the Minister says.

Some alleging bank deposits increased from July to September, alluding that the information on currency exchange was leaked. However, as per RBI records In last one year, there was spike in deposits in one month only, in September. It was due to disbursal of pay commission arrears, he says.

Among political reactions, there were irresponsible ones too. Some people have problems from the efforts to cleanse the system. Some are asking for one more week, he says.

Since new notes are of diffirent sizes, it is taking time to recaliberate the ATMs. That is why mostly Rs.100 notes being dispensed from ATMS right now, recalibration will take some time, he says.

Technology limitations are there, since secrecy was important. 2 lakh ATM machines could not be calibrated for dispensing new notes, the Minister says.

There are challenges in execution: people are turning up in large numbers, they will keep coming in next few days. The government requests them that the deposit time is till December 30, he says.

Currency replacement of such magnitude takes time, Jaitley says.

Rs. 7,868 crore deposited in SBI, total deposits estimated five times more. SBI exchanged notes of 58 lakh people. 22 lakh people operated at ATMs, 33 lakh have withdrawn, he says.

SBI, which handles 20-25 per cent of total banking, has till 12.15 p.m. today conducted 2.28 crore transactions. Five transactions involved in banks:, cash deposit, withdrawal from cash, cash to cash exchange, ATM cah withdrawal and cah deposit machines being used. This apart from post offices, he says.

20-25% of banking in India is by SBI, he says.

When govt decided to replace 500 and 1000 notes, there were expectations that in couple of days, people would queue up to replace significant part, 86 per cent. It is a massive operation, he says.

Finance Ministry monitoring currency replacement constantly, says Jaitley.

Jaitley hails banking personnel for their tireless work. “Government thanks primarily two sections. There is huge rush for currency replacement. But, people are cooperating despite problems. Bank employees also working day and night to execute the work properly.”

Jaitley held an emergency meeting with top banks in the wake of ATMs going dry across the country.

People including elderly and women in large numbers were queueing up to get the valid currency notes needed to meet their daily expenses.

Many ATMs, which reopened four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of two higher value currency notes, ran out of cash in few hours, leaving people frustrated.

To add to the misery still half of the ATMs are non—functional, making people agitated about the lack of infrastructure preparedness for the note exchange programme.

There are about 2 lakh ATMs across the country.

 

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