The Reserve Bank has cut staff holidays to complete counting of currency notes which returned to the system post demonetisation and has also ordered more machines to expedite the process, Governor Urjit Patel on Wednesday informed the parliamentary panel on finance. The central bank chief said employees are working “round the clock” except on Sundays. Replying to queries from members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance on demonetisation and its fallout, Patel said counting of cancelled Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes goes on continuously for six days a week.
Appearing on Wednesday before the panel, chaired by senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily, the RBI chief informed the members that the central bank has curtailed holidays for its employees for counting of the junked notes. Except Sundays, the counting is continuously going on “round the clock” six days a week, a member of the panel quoted Patel as saying.
According to members PTI spoke to, the central bank governor informed the panel that besides Saturdays, many other holidays have also been suspended in order to complete the mammoth task. The RBI has also issued tenders for new machines for counting of the notes, Patel told the committee. There are more than 15,000 staff at the RBI. The panel’s meeting lasted for more than three hours and was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, among others.
During the course of meeting, when members from opposition parties tried to grill the governor, Moily and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey intervened. One Congress member even asked whether RBI would be able to provide details of the amount of cash deposited post-demonetisation by May 2019, the time by when the tenure of the current regime ends.
As part of efforts to fight corruption and the black money menace, the government on November 8 last year demonetised old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. As on November 8, 2016, the total amount of currency in circulation was Rs 17.7 lakh crore, which included specified bank notes (SBNs) of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. There was a 50-day window for exchanging the old notes at banks and post offices from November 9 to December 30.
After December 30, designated offices of the RBI accepted junked notes till June 30 under various categories. Besides, Indians who were abroad during November 9 to December 30 were given a three-month grace period till March 31 to deposit the junked notes. In the case of NRIs, the window was till June 30.