New Delhi: With long lines before automated teller machines (ATMs) and bank branches to withdraw and exchange currency notes continuing on Sunday, the government allowed higher withdrawal and exchange limits to make the transition easier. Banks have also been instructed to ensure that lower-denomination notes are easily made available to customers.
The government also sought to step up efforts to ensure adequate availability of cash in rural areas, which typically have fewer bank branches and ATMs.
Customers can now exchange Rs4,500 for old bank notes at bank counters, compared to the existing ceiling of Rs4,000. The limit on cash withdrawals from recalibrated ATMs has also been increased to Rs2,500 from Rs2,000.
The weekly limit of Rs20,000 for withdrawal from bank accounts has been raised to Rs24,000, the finance ministry said in a statement. Bank notes in the new Rs500 denomination will also be available from now, the statement added.
Since the government announced partial demonetization, declaring existing 500 and 1,000 rupee notes illegal, around Rs3 trillion worth of currencies of these denominations have been deposited in banks, against Rs50,000 crore which has been withdrawn through ATMs and from bank branches. The government estimates that around Rs14 trillion of these old high denomination notes are still in circulation.
To ensure last mile access to funds to people living in remote rural areas, chief secretaries of states have been asked to identify rural areas where cash is a problem and work with banks to ensure that mobile banking vans and business correspondents help the people access cash.
Further, the cash withdrawal at business correspondents have also been increased to Rs2,500. Arrangements have also been made for separate queues for the elderly and differently abled.
The government has also increased the last date for submission of the annual life certificate for government pensioners to 15 January from November end.
Since cancelling the existing 500 and 1000 rupee notes, the government, Reserve Bank of India and the banks have struggled to meet the demand for cash and put in place the backend infrastructure. There have been long queues at bank branches and unavailability of cash at ATMs. On Saturday, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that it will take around 2-3 weeks for the ATMs to be recalibrated to dispense the new Rs500 and Rs2000 notes, appealing to people to visit banks only to meet urgent requirements.