Bank unions threaten agitation on cash crunch issue

Bank unions threaten agitation on cash crunch issue

VADODARA: The All-India Banks Employees Association (AIBEA) has threatened to launch an agitation on the cash crunch issue, its general secretary CH Venkatachalam said on Thursday.

“Mere statements will not help. Concrete, immediate action is needed to improve the supply of currency notes,” Venkatachalam told.

For the past few weeks, banks in many states, especially those in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra and the poll-bound Karnataka have been facing severe cash shortages, with many ATMs showing ‘no cash’ signboards. Because of this, bank employees are facing the wrath and anger of the public, said Venkatachalam.

“Customers are shouting at and abusing bank staff for no fault of theirs,” he added.

While the RBI has claimed that there is enough printing and supply of cash in the system, government tried to blame it on the unusual spike in cash demand due to the ongoing farm procurement.

Blaming the government and the Reserve Bank for inadequate supply of currency notes, he said in fact the problem started with the decision to print Rs 2,000 notes after the note-ban announcement in November 2016.

“If the Rs 1,000-notes were withdrawn to prevent black money and cash hoarding, it is only obvious now that both have become easier with the Rs 2,000 notes,” he said.

Blaming the central bank for the poor cash management that has lead to the present shortage, he wondered if the RBI governor is to be believed where has all the money gone.

“The RBI governor has made a statement that adequate amount of currency notes are printed. But then where have these notes gone? Are they not to investigate? Are they not to ensure that banks have enough cash to meet the requirements of customers?” he asked.

He also alleged that even 16 months since the demonetisation, many ATMs are still not re-calibrated for the newly designed banknotes.

“This is adding to the problem,” he said, and noted that the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, pending for Parliamentary approval, has also added to the problem.

The FRDI Bill seeks to bail out a failing bank with the depositors’ money if the proposed resolution corporation deems it to do so and can refer a bank for liquidation. He said there is fear among the public about the proposed bail-in clause in the Bill.

Therefore, he demanded that government immediately withdraw the Bill.

The present cash shortage has created more doubts and fears among the public whether all is well with banks. “It is the duty of the RBI and government to dispel these fears,” he said.