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Last Updated Wednesday September 20 2017 01:07 PM IST

RBI says it doesn't know how much black money was removed by note ban

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Urjit Patel RBI governor Urjit Patel. File photo

New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has told a parliamentary panel that it has "no information" on how much black money has been extinguished as a result of demonetization of Rs 500/1,000 notes or about unaccounted cash legitimized through exchange of currency post note ban.

Stating that an estimated Rs 15.28 lakh crore in junked notes has come back "subject to future corrections based on verification process", the RBI also said it has "no information" whether there is any plan to implement demonetization at regular intervals.

The RBI has been facing flak from the opposition parties for demonetization and delay in disclosing figures on the junked notes, even as the government has maintained that the November 8, 2016 decision to ban Rs 500/1,000 notes in circulation at that time has helped in curbing black money, among other benefits.

Last week in its annual report, the RBI finally made public the details of the junked notes that have come back into the system putting the figure at Rs 15.28 lakh crore. The same figure has now been shared with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

Replying to queries from the panel, the RBI said the verification for authenticity and numerical accuracy are still on, while some of the specified bank notes (old Rs 500/1,000 notes) which were accepted by banks and post offices are still lying in currency chests.

The central bank also informed the panel that the completion of the process of verification will take time in view of the large volume involved.

The process is "going on in full swing" with most RBI offices working in double shifts and with the help of high-end verification machines, the central bank said.

"Till such time, these notes are processed by the RBI, their numerical accuracy and authenticity, only in estimation of SBNs received back is possible. Subject to future correction, based on verification process when completed, the estimated value of SBNs received as on June 30 is Rs 15.28 trillion," the RBI said in its written reply to the panel.

To a query on how much amount of black money has been extinguished as a result of demonetization, the central bank said, "The RBI has no information in this regard."

The RBI gave similar reply to another question on how much unaccounted money has been legitimized through exchange of junked currency.

The central bank did not give any direct reply on adverse impact on the informal and unorganized sector, as also about the GDP loss. The RBI said the deceleration in overall economic growth figures for 2016-17 had begun "much before demonetization" due to weakness in industrial and services sector.

Last week, several members of the panel had sought redrafting of its draft report on demonetization as the RBI at that time had not provided some crucial details including on the quantum of junked Rs 500/1,000 notes.

The acceptance of the report was deferred as member MPs across party lines including BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, SP MP Naresh Agrawal and BJP MP Nishikant had said that the panel's report on demonetization needed to be "redrafted" while some of them stated that it "lacks punch".

In its annual report for 2016-17, the RBI had disclosed that all but about 1 percent of the scrapped currency notes have come back into the system.

The government had on November 8, banned old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in an attempt to weed out black money in the country. The old notes were allowed to be deposited in banks, with unusual deposits coming under income tax scrutiny.

The government replaced old Rs 500 notes with new ones, but no replacement for Rs 1,000 notes has been made. Instead, a new Rs 2,000 note was introduced post note ban.

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