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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Not just banks, post offices too short of cash

NEW DELHI: It’s not just banks that are feeling the heat of cash crunch postdemonetisation,  post offices across the country too are running thin on cash, with just 30-35% of what they need. 

As per latest estimates shared by the postal department with the finance ministry, about Rs 700 crore cash is required at the post offices across the country. But no more than Rs 300-350 crore is available with them, with the availability dipping to just 30% of the requirement on some days, highly placed officials in the know told ET

Things have been particularly difficult across post offices through last week with pay day pressure and dipping cash reserves, prompting the department to inform the Centre that the people’s requirements are not being fulfilled with the current cash situation. 

The Centre’s instructions to all circles under the postal department are, however, crystal clear: 40% of the cash available to post offices must be sent only to the units located in rural areas. 

The postal department is learnt to have conveyed the instructions to all its divisions. At a meeting held by the Finance Ministry earlier this week, the postal department is learnt to have informed that deposits continue to far exceed currency withdrawals. 

As per the latest assessment shared with the Finance Ministry, and accessed by ET, currency worth Rs 3,680.99 crore was exchanged from November 10 to November 24 at post offices. 

The total value of the deposits at post offices increased from Rs 2,639.18 crore on November 10 to Rs 37,788 crore as on December 5, 2016. As on December 5, currency withdrawal from post offices was Rs 6,586.92 crore only. 

Post offices savings bank in India is one of the oldest and largest banking systems in the country, offering financial services as an agency of the Finance Ministry. They accept deposits under a number of small savings schemes and are key to various wage disbursements and old age pension payments. 

All the 1,30,000 post offices in rural areas have been in focus under the government’s renewed efforts to reach cash to areas where the ATM coverage is low. The 25,000 post offices in urban and semi-urban areas are being serviced as well but the Modi government’s focus is clear — reach cash to the last mile, sources in the know said. 

The Centre is directly reviewing the cash flowsituation from New Delhi. Control rooms have been set up in all 23 postal department circles, divisional and sub-divisional levels. Dak Bhavan in Delhi is also in constant touch with the banks even as hourly reports are being generated on the cash situation. 

Source : The Economic Times

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