Rajiv Thaman, owner, Bally Bakery, Howrah
The Joint Action Committee of Bakeries in West Bengal has warned of “large-scale closure” of small bakeries if the problem of banks not accepting coins from them continues. “We have complained to authorities, including the RBI,” says secretary Idris Ali.
When was Bally Bakery set up?
It is two years old. Many of the bakeries along this street (Ram Lochan Shire in Belur Math, Howrah) used to be iron factories which fell into disrepair.
Why have the coins piled up?
In our distribution network, 50 per cent of the transactions happen in coins. The bakeries sell their goods to stockists, who collect the breads and cakes and sell them to distributors, who in turn supply to hawkers. Each hawker sells the goods to seven or eight retailers each, usually small grocery stores and paan shops. Since most of the money collected at paan shops is in change, they pay the hawkers in coins, and the currency travels up the supply chain.
Why are banks not taking the coins?
While they have not categorically said they won’t accept coins, they usually say they have no manpower to count the money. We have got a special trunk (5-ft-long, 2-ft-high) made to stock the coins (Inside lie seven boxes, four full of coins, adding up to Rs 2 lakh). If the banks don’t accept these coins, we don’t know what we will do.
What has been the fallout?
We are functioning at 30 per cent capacity because more production means more coin collection. From 1,500 cases of cakes daily, we have come down to 700 cases (each case holding 48 pieces of cake), including during the recent festive season of Christmas and New Year. Ten staffers have left due to the cash crunch… We were hit by demonetisation and the GST, and before the market could recover, the coin issue emerged.
How are you paying your staff?
I have had to pay salaries in coins. Workers are complaining.