Post Modi’s emotional outbursts, Centre hikes money withdrawal limits, seek help from states
On a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi made fiery and repeated pleas in an emotional-choked voice in more than one public meetings at Panjim, Baramati and Pune, the central government on Sunday late evening announced an increase in the withdrawal limits at banks and ATMs.
Under attack from Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal, the Centre also urged the states to “facilitate the opening of new bank accounts” and last-mile distribution of small denomination notes. In a statement, the Finance ministry also announced that the new Rs 500 note had been issued.
The daily withdrawal from ATMs has now been hiked to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,000 and from bank counters to Rs 4,500 from Rs 4,000, the Finance Ministry said.
The limit of Rs 10,000 per day withdrawal has been removed while the upper limit for weekly withdrawals from bank accounts has been raised to Rs 24,000 from Rs 20,000.
The Ministry decisions came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to India from Japan. The Prime Minister had left for a three-day Japan visit after announcing demonetization scheme and ban of currency notes on November 8.
The ordeal of the cash-starved citizens continued unabated even on Sunday, as millions of people waited anxiously in front of ATMs and banks to exchange notes and take currencies.
Although the government had ordered all banks across the country will function on Sunday or the weekend, larger crowds thronged in front of banks and ATMs as Monday is a public holiday on account of Guru Nanak Jayanti.
Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal remain unfazed by the Prime Minister’s aggressive and emotional outburst even as NaMo – standing with teary eyes – told a meeting in Goa that he would require only 50 days to stem out the ill-gotten money and book the culprits.
The Centre on Sunday also appealed to state governments to make the scheme successful and extend the currency reach the rural and remote areas.
The state governments have been requested to facilitate opening of new bank accounts as part of financial inclusion programme.
“The Chief Secretaries of states have been requested to identify the rural pockets, if any, where availability of cash has been a problem and provide all support to the banks and post offices in order to ensure the last-mile distribution of small denomination notes through mobile banking vans and banking correspondents,” the finance ministry statement said.
The ministry also urged the people to lodge complaints with the District Magistrates and district administrations if hospitals, caterers and tent houses refused to accept cheques, demand drafts and online payment transfer.
Banks have also been told to cater separately to senior citizens and the handicapped.
The Reserve Bank has assured the public that enough cash in small denominations is available at the Reserve Bank and other banks.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requested PM Modi to roll back the scheme and warned that if the massive cash crunch continued, it could lead to law and order problems.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been very critical of the demonetization, called for an opposition front against Modi and even telephoned CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury.
Mamata Banerjee also spoke to President Pranab Mukherjee about the problems being faced by the common people and sources said, she is likely to meet the President next week.
The CPI-M said the government must continue with the validity of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes till money supply eases in banks and ATMs.
Claiming that the BJP leaders were alerted beforehand about the currency spike, the Congress sought a Supreme Court-monitored probe.
The government said that from November 10 (when the banks reopened) till 5 p.m. on November 13, about Rs 3 lakh crore of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes had been deposited in the banking system. Within these four days, the banking system has handled about 18 crore transactions. About Rs 50,000 crore had been disbursed to customers through account withdrawals or from ATMs or by exchange of old notes.
The statement said that various state governments have made elaborate arrangements to help people.
The Assam government has arranged mobile banking vans with the support of banks and state government staff at certain hospitals for carrying out emergency transactions, it said.