Families with weddings left in lurch as banks refuse Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal

November to January is the peak wedding season in the country and several thousands of families have been hit with this cash crunch at this important juncture.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Published:November 20, 2016 1:44 pm
demonetisation, cash crunch, demonetisation cash crunch, demonetisation effect weddings, demonetisation affect marriages Only 3000 petrol pumps in the country are equipped with SBI swipe machines

The demonetisation of currency has failed on major counts in terms of effective implementation and troubles for the public continue. Two steps announced by the government to ease the cash crunch problem, specifically for people with weddings in their family, have failed due to poor planning and rollout issues. Poor planning and mismanagement have become synonymous with the implementation of demonetisation scheme and banks refuse to disburse one-time cash amount of Rs2.5 lakh to people with wedding needs in the ‘absence of RBI’s operational guidelines’.

One would think that with the amount of intellectual wealth and infrastructural strength at their disposal, the RBI and Finance Ministry would’ve planned it well keeping several contingency plans ready. Though for now it seems, the government is making plans as things move forward with a lackadaisical attitude.

The government had announced the one time withdrawal for wedding related purposes on Thursday along with a scheme to allow select petrol pumps to disburse Rs 2,000 cash a day to people after they swipe their debit cards at those stations.

For wedding withdrawals, some banks say it will take at least a week for the Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal scheme to come into effect. The step which was supposed to ease the troubles of people will be late on account of delay in RBI’s issuing of operational guidelines for the same.

The Economic Times quoted Punjab National Bank managing director Usha Ananthasubramanian as saying, “In absence of operational guidelines from RBI, we are unable to allow withdrawal of Rs 2.5 lakh for marriage purposes.” Several reports also show that SBI branches at several locations had started the process but had to stop abruptly due to logistical issues and shortage of currency in banks.

November to January is the peak wedding season in the country and several thousands of families have been hit with this cash crunch at this important juncture.

As for the move to allow pumps to dispense cash, the problem is that only 3,000 pumps across the country have card swipe machines from SBI that also allow for cash withdrawals. The scheme was extended for 17,500 banks and the rest have swipe machines from other private banks which will take time for configuration. The upgrade process also depends on how fast these private banks act as the government can’t upgrade the softwares on a private bank’s’ machines.

Only 3000 petrol pumps in the country are equipped with SBI swipe machines which are configured to allow such transactions and out of those, only about 700 have started the service. There are a total of 56,190 petrol pumps across the country.

The move to add petrol pumps into the fold for disbursing cash will help in easing troubles a little but won’t make any significant difference for at least the coming few weeks.

Meanwhile, the government has started rolling out Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes in the recalibrated ATMs. But, the recalibration of the 2 lakh ATMs and increasing the inflow of cash needs to be more quick.

The queues outside ATMs may have eased a little, but in many areas that is also leading to a feeling of dejection or people’s inability to leave daily tasks to stand in line. The whole country has queued up for money in the past couple of weeks. Although nobody is dealing with it easily, families with weddings are left in a precarious situation.