Digital Payment Platforms Will Make Life Simpler: Arun Jaitely

Bhubaneswar: After an emergency meet with State Bank of India and Central Bank heads, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held a press meet at National Media Centre in New Delhi on Saturday over demonetization policy of the Government.

The Finance Minister urged the common people to do digital transactions as it will make their life easier and hassle-free.

During the media conference, Jaitley also slammed the opposition by saying some people are spreading misinformation such as shortage of salt among others. Banks and ATMs on weekend witnessed more chaos and even longer queues as cash-starved people jostled to exchange and withdraw money, even as cash dispensing machines went dry soon after they were stocked due to heavy rush. Long serpentine queues were witnessed at bank branches for the third straight day across the country. Similarly, people were seen impatiently waiting outside ATMs to withdraw money.

We accept that people have been very patient, even banks are also working well to tackle this situation.

People including elderly and women in large numbers were queueing up to get the valid currency notes needed to meet their daily expenses. Many ATMs, which reopened four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of two higher value currency notes, ran out of cash in few hours, leaving people frustrated.

To add to the misery still half of the ATMs are non—functional, making people agitated about the lack of infrastructure preparedness for the note exchange programme.

There are about 2 lakh ATMs across the country.

Here are the highlights of the press conference:

1: In the finance ministry, the currency replacement around the country is being continuously monitored.

2: I'll give you some details but there are two sections which I want to thank especially the people of the country who have gone to the banks for currency replacement, as there is several times the usual crowd at banks, but they have maintained order, and the banking employees are managing the action, along with the usual duties well.

3: When the govt decided that 500 and 1000 rupee notes will not remain legal tender and a replacement currency will be introduced, it was expected that people will throng to the banks to replace the large sum of cash.

4: It is a massive operation and it has just started.

5: And how big it will be, I can explain with a few examples.

6: We ask for data from all banks but we are not asking too much of them, we want them to concentrate on their duties as the moment.

7: The SBI and its organisations handle 20-25% of the total banking in the country. From Thursday till today 12:15 pm, of the five kinds of currency exchange transactions taking place, the SBI has carried out 2.28 crore transactions.

8: So you can understand how many people the banks are servicing.

9: Till 12:15 pm, SBI has deposited Rs. 37,868 crores.

10 : So in all Rs. 1.5-two lakh crore have been deposited across the banks.

11: So far SBI has exchanged cash for 58 lakh people.

12 : Given so many tranactions by SBI alone, you can imagine how many times the banking system has serviced our people.

13: This kind of currency replacement can't happen overnight, it takes time The RBI has adequate reserves.

14: There are challenges in this as well.

15: There are five types of transactions in currency replacement: deposit, withdrawal, exchange, ATM withdrawal, deposit in machines.

16: First, people have come in such large numbers, and they will keep coming back for some time.

17: But people can come even after the crowd thins out a bit.

18: If we had recalibrated ATMs earlier, we couldn't have maintained the secrecy. So they are being done gradually.

19: And since the new notes are of different size, it will take time to recalibrate the ATMs to them.

20: There have been many political statements and some have been very irresponsible.

21: Some people have a special problem to this effort of cleansing.

22: Congress today asked why should they stand in line for their own money. The country has the right to know if tax was paid on them.

23: Another irresponsible statement was that since deposits went up between July - September, some people were alerted of this earlier.

24: I have seen all the data, it is apparent that it was because of the arrears of the pay commission. And based on that they spun a conspiracy theory.

25: Some people are trying to take advantage of these situation, like we saw yesterday with salt.

26: The goal of this is to clean transactions, clean money.

27: The news of random searches by revenue department is wrong.

28: Raids are being conducted based on intelligence inputs, stock details are being sought, some places are being surveyed.