New Delhi: The finance ministry on Thursday said double counting of deposited notes could have led to the figure of Rs12.44 trillion that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says had been deposited in banks by 10 December, indicating the actual figure could be much lower.

Briefing reporters, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said there could be discrepancies in the Rs12.44 trillion figure. “There are lot of areas where there could be double counting. We have identified those areas and the data is being sanitized," he added.

Das said that so far more than Rs5 trillion has already been supplied to the market post 8 November and that by end of December, at least half of the Rs15 trillion value of demonetized notes will be back in circulation.

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However, Das said he would not be able to say as of now whether the withdrawal limits will be increased post 30 December.

Asked by when RBI will be able to inject the Rs15 trillion worth of notes demonetized on 8 November, Das said: “We don’t have a target that we need to reach Rs15 trillion value. RBI has a plan of action with regard to currency supply and it will supply currency based on it."

Das said the government and the RBI have diverted production lines to print more Rs500 notes after initially focussing on printing Rs2,000 notes.

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“The situation has been constantly improving. Initially, the focus was on printing Rs2,000 notes. Now, we have enough number of Rs2,000 notes in supply as well as in stock. So, focus now is more on printing Rs500 notes. The two security presses of RBI and two of the government are now concentrating on printing Rs500 notes. The printing of lower denomination notes are also continuing simultaneously," Das said.

Das said RBI has supplied three times the number of lower denomination notes including Rs10, Rs20, Rs50 and Rs100 currencies after 8 November compared with what it usually does in a year’s time.

“For example, Rs80,000 crore of Rs100 notes has been injected into the economy after 8 November in addition to Rs1.6 trillion already in circulation in the system," he added.

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Das recognized the non-availability of cash in some ATMs. “Some banks are preferring to distribute cash through their branches rather than putting the money in the ATMs to give better service to their own customers. We have already advised banks to continue dispensing cash through ATMs," he said.

Das said enforcement authorities are acting on specific information of illegal accumulation of new notes based on specific inputs provided by the Financial Intelligence Unit in the finance ministry. “It is not (an) aimless fishing expedition. It is a very pointed, focussed surgical action," he added.

On the security features of the new Rs500 and Rs2,000 notes, Das said these are entirely indigenously designed and have been done in-house by the RBI.

“These are much more secure and the possibility of counterfeiting or imitation is far lower than the old currency notes which were designed outside India," the economic affairs secretary added.

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