Kolkata: At a time when people across the country are queuing up outside banks to get rid of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, the scrapped currencies are selling at a premium in the serpentine bylanes of trading hub Burrabazar. Old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will fetch you Rs 550 and Rs 1,100 here.
On Monday, TOI spotted men sitting with wads of new currency notes in the shops dotting the trading hub. They were there a month ago too, but then they were handing out anything between Rs 800 and Rs 850 in exchange for a note of Rs 1000 in old denomination. The sudden reverse exchange may stump commoners but those in the know say it has been triggered by shell companies who need to shore up ‘cash in hand’ in their balance sheets that show huge paper transactions. The city’s accountancy fraternity sees this as a bid to justify the paper transactions before the third quarter ends on December 31.
In the balance sheet, ‘cash in hand’ is the amount held by a company in the form of notes or coins. In layman’s term, ‘cash in hand’ is the money that is kept to pay small amounts but is not deposited in the bank. However, it does not mean the money lies in physical form in a chest or a drawer.
After PM Modi announced demonetisation on November 8, the business community in the city adopted every possible means to either exchange the notes or get some deposited in banks. With the third quarter coming to an end, they have little cash left to show as ‘cash in hand’. Income tax officials have come across a number of companies which have shown a large amount ‘cash in hand’ in the balance sheet when the physical cash was much less.
If these companies have shown ‘cash in hand’ over a long period, then a large part of the amount is expected to be in the form of old Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes. But, as per RBI guidelines, these notes can be deposited in banks only till December 30 this year. This has led to the sudden surge in demand for the scrapped currency. “There is such a possibility but I can’t say if anyone has utilised the scope to fudge the balance sheet,” said Anirban Datta, chairman of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (eastern region).