With tomorrow being the pay day, banks are gearing up to face a huge rush as people will queue up at branches across the country to withdraw salaries amid the ongoing cash crunch following demonetisation. Making matters worse, a large number of ATMs are still dry even 23 days after the government scrapped 500 and 1000 rupee notes earlier this month to crack down on black money. Top government officials say special efforts are being made to pump in additional cash into banks to meet the heavy demand for currency notes on account of salary withdrawal.
The Reserve Bank has been asked to ensure adequate supply of new Rs 500 notes at banks and currency printing presses are working overtime to print them, the official said, adding that there is a lag of 21 days for printed notes to reach markets. Bankers fear heavy rush at the branches for a week as many ATMs are still not functional. Banks may have to lower the withdrawal limit as there is limited cash coming from RBI, said an official from UCO Bank.
People are likely to throng at bank branches on December 1 as central and state governments credit salaries and pensions to millions of accounts. At the central level alone, there are around 50 lakh employees and 58 lakh pensioners. Bankers said the government’s move last week to provide Rs 10,000 in advance to non-gazetted staff may provide only a slight relief.
Many banks have made ‘SOS calls’ to the Reserve Bank for additional cash for the first few days of December to meet the initial rush of people, already fatigued standing in unending queues to exchange/deposit old notes and make limited withdrawals over the past three weeks after the demonetisation was announced on November 8.
Banks have to make additional arrangement including security deployment, said a senior banker of Canara Bank. Many banks are contemplating to set up additional counters for withdrawal to meet the rush. “At SBI we have enough currency supply. At some pockets there was shortage, but there also funds are being made available,” State Bank of India’s deputy managing director Manju Agarwal said.
Despite recalibration of nearly 70 per cent of ATMs do not have cash, while people are struggling with the problem of change as the operational ones dispense mostly high denomination Rs 2,000 notes.