RBI cut holidays to count notes

Urjit Patel

The RBI governor told the Committee that the total currency in circulation was Rs 15.4 lakh crore as against the Rs 17.7 lakh crore that was in circulation a year ago before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation.

"We had a lengthy discussion (on demonetisation and various other issues) today". The session is scheduled to start on July 17 and is expected to conclude on August 11. The RBI is still counting notes and has even ordered new machines to speed up the process. In a meeting with a Parliamentary panel on Thursday, RBI Governor Urjit Patel repeated what he has been saying for the last seven months.

The panel's meeting lasted for more than three hours and was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, among others.

The nation might have emerged from the disruptive surge of the demonetisation exercise but the question - how much of the demonetised Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes came back into the system? - continues to haunt the government.

Members of the committee also said that Mr. Patel chose not to comment on Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia's deposition to the committee, that Mr. Patel had been in the loop over the decision to demonetise currency notes of ₹500 and ₹1,000.

The current money in circulation, Patel said, has been restored to Rs 15.4 lakh crore which is almost the amount that was termed illegal that night of November 8 when PM Narendra Modi announced demonetisation.

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The RBI has also issued tenders for new machines for counting of the notes, the meeting was told. By June 30 the RBI closes its books, this is followed by an audit process which usually takes two months. RBI has a staff strength of 15,000.

During the course of meeting, when members from opposition parties tried to grill the governor, Moily and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey intervened.

The agenda of the meeting is -Evidence of the represntatives of the RBI on the subject demonetisation and transformation towards digital economy and banking sector in India-Challenges and the way forward.

While this was the RBI Governor's second appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance, he has appeared just once before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.

Members are learnt to have asked about transaction cost being levied on digital payments and inadequate presence of banks in rural areas.

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