99.3 per cent of scrapped high value notes back in banking system, says RBI

The government had expected to unearth black money worth at least Rs 3 trillion, a claim that now lies in tatters

By Our Bureau in Mumbai
  • Published 30.08.18
  • a few seconds read
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Narendra Modi

Mumbai: Most of the myths that the Narendra Modi government had built around demonetisation in November 2016 went up in smoke on Wednesday after the RBI revealed that almost all of the scrapped high-value notes had found their way back into the banking system.

In its annual report for 2017-18, the RBI said it had finally finished counting the vast trove of demonetised notes and found that 99.3 per cent of the notes with a combined value of Rs 15,417.93 billion had been verified after the marathon counting session. "The total specified bank notes (SBNs, or demonetised currency) returned from circulation is Rs 15,310.73 billion," the RBI said.

The government had expected to unearth "black money" worth at least Rs 3 trillion - a forecast made with some bravado before the cash deposit counters were slammed shut on December 31, 2016, during a seven-week frenzy after Modi's shock announcement.

That claim seemed to lie in tatters last year itself when the RBI had said in its annual report for 2016-17: "The estimated value of SBNs received as on June 30, 2017, is Rs 15.28 trillion." But the apex bank said it would need to weed out fake and counterfeit notes from the chests.

The RBI turned up very few fake or questionable notes: 317,567 pieces of the old Rs 500 notes and 256,324 of the old Rs 1,000 notes, translating into a total value of Rs 415 million, or 0.0027 per cent of the total notes in circulation in November 2016.

The shortfall of Rs 107.20 billion is also accounted for. The notes are with "certain district central cooperative banks that could not be accepted". The matter is pending in courts.