Centre to stick to deadlines as opposition gets stiffer against demonetiztion; Announces no more currency exchange from today except at RBI counters

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New Delhi, Nov 25: Despite of stiff opposition from the political parties during the winter session, the Centre seems to be more determined to take forward the demonetization policy. Sticking to earlier announced deadlines, the Centre has announced that no organizations in the country would receive and exchange old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from Today. This is an effort to  tighten the demonetization policy.

Now, the citizens have been left with only one  option and that is to deposit them in the bank account as it was earlier declared that banks would exchange the old notes till December 31 or exchange them at RBI counters.

“It has been observed that over the counter exchange of the old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination has shown a declining trend,” read a government statement announcing the move.

“It has further been felt that people may be encouraged and facilitated to deposit their old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in their bank accounts. This will encourage people who are still unbanked to open new bank accounts. Consequently, there will be no over the counter exchange of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes after midnight of 24.11.2016,” the statement added.

The announcement came following the Reserve Bank of India’s circular issued last day. The circular asks them to take steps to ensure their staff members do not subvert the rules by facilitating the exchange of currency notes illegally.

However, the government also announced that exemptions are made to the places which accepted the notes till December 25 but with a clause saying that the exemption would only accept the use of the old 500 notes. This means Rs 1000 notes will now be accepted only for deposits into bank accounts.

The payment of utility bills for individuals and households have  been limited to water and electricity sections and will accept the banned notes.

Foreign citizens will be permitted to exchange foreign currency up to Rs 5000 per week, with entries of these transactions recorded in their passports.

Other exemption categories that will continue for the use of the old Rs 500 notes are the payment of school fees up to Rs 2000 in government-run schools and colleges; mobile phone top-ups up to Rs 500 and purchases from Consumer Cooperative Stores up to Rs 5000 at a time.

The old currency notes would also be accepted for payments at toll plazas from December 3 to 15, with the toll suspensions continuing until December 2.

This leaves a decreasing number of avenues for the use of the now-demonetized high-value notes – deposits into bank accounts or payment of dues and arrears to select government departments – and pushing towards the government’s idea of a cashless economy.

Earlier in the day, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said there are 80 crore debit cards in the country, of which 40 crores are active.