The cash crunch in ATMs in various parts of the country will be resolved by Friday, State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar has said. He said currency notes will reach states such as Telangana and Bihar by Thursday evening, PTI reported.
“I believe there is cash in more than 80% of the ATMs in the country,” Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla told ANI. Unidentified finance ministry officials said the figure was 66% in Bihar, 77% in Telangana and 70% in Andhra Pradesh, and over 90% in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, North East India, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. The government is reportedly planning to supply an additional Rs 1,000 crore to Bihar.
Shukla said: “Some people are in the habit of misleading the country just to build their own image. I request them to not do so.”
State Bank of India has said its debit card holders can withdraw up to Rs 2,000 a day without charges at any of its 4.78 lakh point-of-sale terminals. The government’s four currency printing presses are working 24 hours a day unlike the usual 18 to 19 hours a day, an unidentified official told PTI.
“It is not a uniform cash crunch problem,” Rajnish Kumar said. “It is there in geographies like Telangana and Bihar. We are hoping that the problem will be resolved by tomorrow [Friday] because cash is in transition and it is reaching these states by today evening.”
Kumar also urged people not to hoard cash, and said they should deposit money as well. “If we hold everything, then whatever supply we do have, it will be insufficient for the country,” he said. “So it is important that the currency is also recycled.”
People from several states, including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and Telangana have said in recent days that ATMs in their areas either do not have cash or are not functioning. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has called the problem “temporary”, and the Reserve Bank of India has said it has stepped up the printing of currency notes.
Bank employees threaten agitation
In a fallout of the cash shortage, the All India Bank Employees Association has threatened to launch an agitation. Pointing out that bank employees have had to deal with angry customers, the association’s general secretary, CH Venkatachalam, told PTI: “Mere statements will not help. Concrete, immediate action is needed to improve the supply of currency notes.”
He said the problem had started with demonetisation in November 2016, which had made it easier to hoard cash by introducing Rs 2,000 notes. Many ATMs have still not been re-calibrated for the new banknotes, he said.
“The RBI governor has made a statement that adequate amount of currency notes are printed,” Venkatachalam said. “But then where have these notes gone? Are they not to investigate? Are they not to ensure that banks have enough cash to meet the requirements of customers?”