Rumours of ATMs going dry trigger panic

Representative

Public lenders State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and privately owned Axis Bank said in separate statements that only few of their ATMs were without cash.

India's finance ministry said that it had "adequate reserves" to meet the "extraordinary demand" of currency notes. The following day, service providers collect cash from banks and transport the same in vans. As many as 92 per cent of its ATMs were working today as against around 85 per cent yesterday. "The government would also like to assure that it would be supplying adequate currency notes to meet even higher levels of demand if such demand were to continue in the coming days/months", it added.

ATM centres in eastern Maharashtra, parts of Bihar and Gujarat besides Andhra Pradesh and Telengana haven't been dispensing mone to customers for the past few days triggering panic that an economic emergency was around the cards. This growth was much higher compared to FY16 or FY15 and even the five-year average of 8.2 percent.

When asked about the buzz that the cash shortage happened due to the recent scams in the banking sector, including one allegedly perpetrated by Nirav Modi or the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, Garg dismissed it, saying that the crunch may be in some States as they started distributing more cash benefits rather than otherwise. Furthermore, many banks do not have cash chests and these have to be moved from other states, he said, adding that there is no shortage of cash in ATMs in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The report explains that a part of the reason why the shortage is being felt could be the introduction and faster- acceleration in printing Rs 200 notes.

"We believe, there has been a forced shift in currency composition with more of smaller denomination notes in circulation now, which is positive", the report noted. The quest for cash has become a daily affair for most denizens and so have been their vain visits to ATMs. Demand for cash shot up by 450 billion rupees ($6.9 billion) in the first two weeks of April alone, it said.

There may be a feeling among people that there will be a cash shortage in the future, which is causing people to withdraw cash, Garg said. Nevertheless, printing of the notes has been ramped up in all the 4 note presses.

'We are facing a cash crunch. There is a department which monitors situations like this.

A resident greeted with "no-cash" message at an SBI ATM kiosk on Ashok Rajpath in Patna on Tuesday. "Instead of 1 Lakh, make the prize money 50,000 and the victor can take care of cash expenses of the entire team", he further added.

The income tax department will investigate the sudden surge in cash withdrawals that has led to a shortage of cash in the country, a senior finance ministry official said.

The tight cash situation witnessed across various states in the country that pushed the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) into fire-fighting mode, and is being colloquially called Demonetisation 2.0, seems to be a problem of logistical mis-management rather than just the shortage of cash, as it is portrayed to be.

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