RBI chief says more machines required

The demonetization mess is still not over at Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The central bank is still counting the demonetized notes of rupees 1000 and 500, deposited by the people in the aftermath of November 8 announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Common people deposited the scrapped notes till December 31 while NRIs were given time unto March 31.

Opposition leaders have been expressing suspicion on the whole process. People are discussing as to what has gone wrong in handling the unprecedented situation.

On Wednesday RBI Governor Urjit Patel informed the parliamentary panel headed by Veerappa Moily that the “exact number” of the scrapped notes was not clear because they are still being counted. He further informed that RBI had issued tenders for fresh Currency Verification Processing System (CVPS) machines to speed up the counting.

Many Parliamentary panel members, especially opposition leaders have expressed their displeasure. Congress leader Digvijay Singh asked RBI chief that, “Will you able to complete the counting by May 2019 (when the Narendra Modi government completes its term). He also said that none of the objectives of the demonetization, including checking fake currency and controlling terror had been achieved.

Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agarwal walked out of the meeting asking what was the point of calling RBI governor if answers were not forthcoming.

Urjit Patel appeared before the parliamentary panel on Wednesday for the second time. After his first appearance on January 18, he sought exemptions for twice.

The written submission by RBI to the Parliamentary panel says, “notes received during demonetization are required to be reconciled with the reported figures to ensure accounting integrity, and processed for verifying numerical accuracy and authenticity through CVPS machines. This work has been accorded top priority. Since the CVPS machine capacity is limited, steps have been taken to expedite the process so as to arrive at the exact number of the Specified bank Notes (SBNs) received.”

RBI also informed that all regional offices of the RBI have been operating the CVPS machines in two shifts, for six days of the week. “We have also added machine capability by making use of large machines available with commercial banks for processing these notes, under our supervision. A tender has been floated to acquire additional machines from vendors on lease. Process for regular purchase of machines is being expedited,” said the RBI.

The panel members expressed their displeasure saying RBI officials did not answer most of their questions. Report says that RBI officials have offered to provide written answers to all questions. The members of parliamentary panel have decided not to call Patel again. The panel was supposed to submit its report on demonetization during the Monsoon Session beginning next week.

The members of the panel raised questions over the demonetization drive, preparedness for the digital transaction and prevalence of bit coins.

During the Parliamentary panel’s meeting BJP members were defending  RBI governor Urjit Patel. BJP member Nishikant Dubey and other party colleagues did not allow the conducting of the meeting according to the scheduled. RBI Chief was supposed to reply to three questions each from three members. Remaining members were to resume questioning after Patel’s responses. The BJP members said that Patel would only answer after all the questions were over.