ALARMED at having to lug sackloads of coins accumulated at bus depots of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) in Mumbai, the transporter’s banker ICICI Bank has now demanded a service charge of 10 per cent of the value of coins to be collected. This means BEST will have to shell out about Rs 40 lakh a month to the bank for collecting and transporting coins valued at Rs 4 crore every month from its 27 depots.
At present, daily collections of ticket revenues find their way to the 27 bus depots of BEST located across various parts of Mumbai. Employees of ICICI Bank go and collect this money from the depots and deposit the money in its account with the bank. It takes a couple of days for the money to be credited into the BEST account. The bank enjoys a ‘float’ — money available freely for a short while — till the client’s account is credited. So far, the bank did not levy any charge for collecting the coins from the BEST depots.
BEST’s problems compounded after it slashed bus fares to a minimum of Rs 5 in July last year. This led to a huge surge in coins at the depots. A single coin weighs between 4 gm and 7.7 gm each. Over the past few days, BEST has accumulated nearly 2.45 crore coins across its various depots. The combined weight of these coins is around 164 tonnes.
ICICI Bank, whose existing contract with BEST lapsed in July 2017, sought to renew it with fresh terms and conditions. In a February 25 letter to BEST, ICICI Bank proposed a service charge of Rs 3 for every Rs 1,000 collected in notes of Rs 200 denomination, Rs 50 on every Rs 1,000 collected in notes of Rs 100 denomination and Rs 100 for every Rs 1,000 collected in coins of all denominations.
BEST presently earns Rs 2 crore a day through ticket sales, of which coins make up Rs 13 lakh. According to bank officials, sorting, counting and collection of coins requires additional manpower. BEST is now planning to distribute at least Rs 2,000 to each of its employees in coins as a part of their monthly salary. The employees will be given around Rs 2,000 in change from March 10-15 when their salaries will be credited.
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