Centre sees cash crunch ease

The Asian Age.

Business, In Other News

Rs 200, Rs 500 notes are being printed 24x7 at all press to meet shortfall.

Rajnish Kumar

New Delhi: The government and RBI, which continued to monitor the cash crunch in the country, believes that the situation would start to improve as early as Friday evening, according to sources.

The situation saw a slight improvement on Thursday as around 86 per cent of the ATMs were functioning across the country. However, in states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana only 70 per cent of the ATMs were dispensing cash, claimed senior government officials.

On the ground report, however, suggests that the number of cash-dispensing ATMs claimed by the officials to be exaggerated.

Bihar, which was another state hit by the cash crunch, saw around 66 per cent of its ATM working on Thursday.

The RBI is transporting more cash to Bihar so as to improve the situation in the state by Friday evening, said sources. They added that at least additional Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 crore may be pushed to Bihar.

Special arrangements are being made to transport cash to areas that during the last three days faced an “unusual spurt in demand for cash”.

In states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and North East around 90 per cent of the ATMs were working on Thursday, said sources.

To deal with cash crunch, the Centre has ramped up printing of currency notes and is operating all the four presses 24x7. Since this week, the presses are printing out Rs 200 and Rs 500 notes without a break to meet an estimated Rs 70,000 crore of curre-ncy shortfall in the country, said senior officials.

On an average, the four presses of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd operate for 18-19 hours daily with a 3-4 hour break. But since the time ATMs ran dry due to “unusual spurt in demand” for cash, the presses are operating 24X7, said officials.

SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said the problem will be resolved by Friday. “It is not a uniform cash crunch problem. It is there in geographies like Telangana and Bihar. We are hoping that the problem will be resolved by tomorrow because cash is in transition and it is reaching these states by today evening,” said Mr Kumar.

He also blamed hoarding of cash for the current shortage. “If we (people) hold everything, then whatever supply we (banks) do, it will be insufficient for the country. So it is important that the currency is also recycled,” Mr Kumar added.

Economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg too had said that the government suspects that Rs 2,000 notes are being hoarded as they are not coming back into the circulation fast enough.

Normally a currency printing cycle is of 15 days, meaning thereby the increased number of currencies which are being printed beginning this week would be available only towards the end of this month.

The official said that the printing of currency 24x7 was last done post demonetisation.