The ‘No cash’ crisis

[ Junroi Mamai ]
Much hue and cry was witnessed in the past couple of weeks following a sudden shortage of cash in the capital complex and other parts of the state. People had to stand in long queues outside ATMs at odd hours of the day to withdraw much-needed cash. The situation slowly worsened, aggravating people’s suffering, since there were medical bills which needed to be paid and school and college fees to be deposited.
The State Bank of India (SBI) authorities blamed non-remittance of cash from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the cash crunch prevailing in the state for the past couple of months. Cash was quickly exhausted from all the ATMs, and the SBI authorities struggled to meet the growing demand of cash by remitting cash from its branches in the district.
Reports from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar described a similar situation in those states. It prompted a statement from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday, explaining that there has been an unusual spurt in the demand for currency across the country in the last three months.
“This unusual spurt in currency demand in the country is seen more in some parts of the country like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar,” he said.
The Minister of State for Finance, Shiv Pratap Shukla also said that the government has set up state-wise committees and the RBI has also formed a committee to transfer currency from one state to other because permission of the RBI is needed for money transfer. He said that the problem of shortage would be solved in 2-3 days.
An RBI report shows that the currency in circulation in the country has reached the pre-demonetization level of about Rs 17 lakh crore. “The Government of India with the RBI has taken all steps to meet this unusual demand. We had adequate reserves of currency notes which have been used to meet fully the extraordinary demand generated so far,” a finance ministry statement said.
“We continue to have in stock adequate currency notes of all denominations, including of Rs 500, Rs 200 and Rs 100 to meet any demand,” it added. The government said that there has been adequate supply of currency notes to meet the demand.
However, speculations are rife regarding the cash deficit, ranging from hoarding of Rs 2000 notes to people depositing less cash and withdrawing more from the banks. The RBI also cited the increase in the rate of withdrawals compared to deposits as one of the reasons behind the cash crisis. However, there has been no specific answer from any of the sources explaining the actual reason behind the crisis.
In the meantime, following public outcry, the Guwahati branch of the RBI rushed in on a damage control mode and remitted cash to the SBI branches in Arunachal, and the SBI authorities went on to assure that the cash deficit has been addressed.
Although, the crisis has been addressed for the present, it remains to be seen whether or not it will resurface in the coming days.