Demonetisation travails continue as government bids to ease liquidity (Roundup)

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Even after over a month of demonetisation, cash starved people continued to queue up outside banks and ATM kiosks on Thursday while the Union government said it was focusing on printing new Rs 500 notes to ease the liquidity situation over the next 2-3 weeks.

Continuing the crackdown on black money, the Income Tax Department raided two branches of a private bank in the national capital region unearthing 20 fake accounts while officials recovered Rs 10 crore from several lockers of a bank in Pune.

Serpentine queues at banks and ATM kiosks have become a daily affair since the Narendra Modi government’s November 8 decision to spike high-value currency notes. There was no change in the routine across the national capital as people from all walks of life endeavoured to lay hands on much needed cash.

There were also altercations among the customers and officials after some of the bank branches ran out of money. Many customers complained that they were never informed if there was any cash left or not.

In what may be a respite for the masses, the Finance Ministry on the day said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was now focusing on printing of Rs 500 notes which would ease the liquidity situation.

“In 2-3 weeks, the situation will ease out because of the focus on printing of Rs 500 notes,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told media persons here.

Das also clarified that the government has no intention of printing new notes worth the entire Rs 15.44 lakh crore, that were in circulation in high denomination notes before demonetisation.

“The remonetisation will be as per requirement. There is no target that we have to reach (print) Rs 15 lakh crore,” he said, adding that by December-end, the government would have put about 50 percent of Rs 15.44 lakh crore in circulation.

Das said that initially the focus was to supply enough Rs 2,000 notes so as to replenish the demonetised notes as soon as possible. He also said that large amount of seized notes will also be put back in circulation as soon as possible.

He said the process of distribution has been further streamlined with printing presses being linked to distribution areas nearer to them.

For making adequate cash available in the rural areas, cooperative banks have been given enough money to provide for crop loans, he said.

Das said that out of 2.20 lakh ATMs, over two lakh have already been recalibrated.

Raiding the Axis Bank branch in Noida’s Sector 51, IT official seized 20 fake accounts with deposits amounting Rs 60 crore. The Connaught Place branch of the bank was also raided by the department.

The twin raids came days after another branch of the bank in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area was raided and 44 fake accounts with Rs 100 crore unearthed.

Meanwhile, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said managing demonetisation was a short-term challenge for the next few weeks and months and asserted the Indian economy is “very stable” at the macro level.

“One of the challenges for the Indian economy in the short-term is to manage the demonetisation fall-out. How do we manage demonetisation in the next few weeks and months,” he said.

The day also saw the government launch two incentive schemes for both consumers and merchants to boost digital payments.

Announcing the twin schemes, Niti Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the objective was to make digital payments a “mass movement”.

The Lucky Grahak Yojana would reward consumers through a daily as well as a weekly draw on transactions worth Rs 50 to Rs 3,000, with a maximum reward up to Rs 1 lakh.

The Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana, meant for merchants, would have a maximum reward of Rs 50,000, Kant said.

The schemes would commence from December 25, Christmas Day, and would conclude on April 14 — the birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar — next year with mega awards, Kant said.

–IANS

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