Demonetisation: Arun Jaitley tells people to wait, says may take 21 days for ATMs to run normally

The briefing, second in three days, was called after anger and scuffles were seen in long queues before banks, which struggled to handle customers seeking to deposit or exchange old notes, and withdraw money.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: November 13, 2016 9:44 am
atms-queue-759 Naeem Akhtar after failing to get enough money from an ATM located near the RBI office, for her daughter’s wedding on November 21, in New Delhi on Saturday. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal

Seeking to address rising concerns as people returned from ATMs and banks across the country without cash, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday said it may take up to three weeks for all the 2 lakh ATMs to operate normally. Each one has to be calibrated individually to dispense the new sized notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 besides the lower denomination currency of Rs 100, he said.

Regretting the hardships, Jaitley advised the public to be patient and said the move would have benefits for the economy in the long term. He also urged people not to flock to the banks to exchange the now-defunct banknotes, and stagger it over the 50-day window.

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At a hurriedly called press conference, the Finance Minister assured that the RBI and banks had stacked up enough currency to replace the Rs 14 lakh crore worth of Rs 1,000/500 notes that had been declared invalid, and said the government was constantly monitoring the “massive operation”.

The briefing, second in three days, was called after anger and scuffles were seen in long queues before banks, which struggled to handle customers seeking to deposit or exchange old notes, and withdraw money.

Before the press conference, Jaitley held a meeting with Finance Ministry officials and the RBI.

“ATMs could not have been calibrated (before the announcement) because of secrecy issue. Thousands of people are involved in the recalibration exercise (and) secrecy could not have been maintained. Recalibration takes at least two-three weeks,” Jaitley said.

“But once the money is available both in the system and more so in the banking system, the advantages of that to the economy and businesses will be far more. The capacity of the banks with all this additional capital to lend and support businesses is going to be far higher. And therefore medium-term and long-term advantages to the economy as against this temporary inconvenience or disruption are far too many,” he said.

About allegations by political parties that bank deposits had surged before the demonetisation was announcement by the government, Jaitley said the earlier spike in deposits was primarily on account of the arrears of Seventh Pay Commission being paid.

The minister urged people to accept the currency available at the banks rather than insist on smaller denominations. “Even though a large quantum of currency is available, in the given branch, that particular choice may not be available. And therefore, I would appeal to people to take whichever currency is available.”

Jaitley hoped that with the passage of time, crowds at banks will start thinning. “The RBI and banks are in readiness… The situation now is peaceful, there are long queues but very orderly queues,” he said.

In some parts of the country, banks will remain closed on Monday on account of Guru Nanak Jayanti. They will be open in western and southern India.

Giving an example of the country’s largest lender SBI, which controls 20-25 per cent of the banking business, Jaitley said that in two and a half days since it opened after the demonetisation announcement, it had done 2.28 crore transactions. “You can make an estimate that the total banking system would have done about four-five times of that of SBI, which is about Rs 2 lakh crore,” he said.

In this time, he said, the SBI received deposits worth Rs 47,868 crore. It exchanged notes of 58 lakh customers, while 22 lakh customers used ATMs and 33 lakh withdrew cash.

Jaitley also said the government was looking into sudden “popping up” of money in zero-balance Jan Dhan accounts, as well as keeping a watch on illegal currency changers, offering to change the junked 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

The Finance Minister said India as a country should move towards plastic currency and use the electronic mode for more and more transactions.

Later in the day, the Finance Ministry said in a statement that only 60 per cent of the ATMs were in operation out of 2 lakh, and the rest were expected to start working in the next few days.

Out of 2 lakh ATMs, about 1.2 lakh were operational, a Finance Ministry statement said, adding that only Rs 100 notes were being disbursed from the ATMs. “Recalibration of ATMs is going on, which will be completed by end of this month/early December. Other denominations will then be disbursed by ATMs,” it added.

To cater to the requirement of rural areas, banks were advised to supply notes of smaller denominations (Rs 100 and less) as well as Rs 10 coins, the statement said.

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    Anandreddy CH
    Nov 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm
    Honest Finance Minister committed Yesterday 15days to need pertaining to the subject,again today extended contradicted statement needs 21Days being fan of Modi Ji My self totally disappointed the way matters being handled in this Regard. I am 69 years old and don't want to post as anomalously.contact detailes also updated
    Reply
    1. G
      Georgia
      Nov 13, 2016 at 9:32 am
      Good decision but disastrous planning and execution , typical of our political cl ! Who lack basic common sense !lt;br/gt;Has any one seen any elected representatives at any bank or Atms. Rules are made for us to follow and not for them
      Reply
      1. M
        Mohammed nadeemsha
        Nov 13, 2016 at 2:21 am
        WoW... Finance ministers would not have any issues, So easy for him to say 21 days to get All the ATM's working normally... If they were not competent to run this demonetization why they executed it..So many ppl life is @ risk and all the marriages will get cancelled, Now the commodities rates will shoot up.. Common man is suffering. Grave mistake by BJP...
        Reply
        1. H
          Haru Mandal
          Nov 13, 2016 at 7:36 am
          so officially the chaos will continue for 21 days - MINIMUM. Whenever workers/farmers or trade unions call for a nationwide strike or state wide strike, some "PRO-reform" Economist (who write politically biased "Political columns" mixing and tempering with economics jargon) jump in and CALCULATE how much GDP loss has happened, how many LAKH of CRORES of Rupees the country has lost etc etc because of the strike. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;What should be the TOTAL loss to the NATION from this chaos of epic proportion for 21 days ? Who will do the calculation?
          Reply
          1. J
            JITHIN
            Nov 13, 2016 at 2:12 am
            Here the Finance minister and the PM are taking the public for a ride.....lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Many Marriages are getting cancelled and postponed.. Lame excuses we had enough from this govt and 2 yrs is a reasonable time to ask for results not excuses.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Please correct your actions...
            Reply
            1. N
              Narasimham
              Nov 13, 2016 at 5:14 am
              At the age of 8 Istood in que for ration quota during 1962(China war). during Pak war(1965) walked to bring butter milk for 2miles.stood in long ques to get kirosin ,milk.walked long distance for water,toilet middle age stood in que line for gas connection. part of life ped for standing in ques.i don't feel standing in que for money if such act benefit nation.why hue and cry ?
              Reply
              1. M
                Michellegt;Vedicgt;human
                Nov 13, 2016 at 5:23 am
                I as a com-mon sense man can understand the current situation and difficulties,---but one should understand that it is just for a sort time and interim,---when we all can fa-st for weeks and months during festive seasons,--why can't now???--after all it's the poor and com-mon man who will be benefit once the process is up and running and those who were holding bla-ck money will be que-uing up in banks,---thanks to sir MODIJI.
                Reply
              2. N
                Nbalu two
                Nov 13, 2016 at 3:23 am
                Nocoordination one man show administrative failure jaitly and other hasty haphazard .result ordinary lawwabiding people are suffer
                Reply
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