'RBI processing old notes to verify numerical accuracy'
The old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes are being reconciled and processed by the RBI for verifying numerical accuracy and authenticity and the progress is being closely monitored, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.
The government had demonetised old high denomination notes on November 8, 2016, and had given people time till December 30, 2016, to deposit the same in bank accounts.
The RBI has been entrusted with the job of counting the notes deposited post the cash recall. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said the central bank is still completing the counting of specified bank notes (SBNs).
"SBNs received are being reconciled to obviate reporting errors and processed for verifying numerical accuracy and authenticity through machines. The progress is being closely monitored," he said.
Steps have been taken to augment RBI's machine processing capacity and efforts are afoot to complete the counting of notes "as soon as possible", Jaitley added. According to the finance minister, demonetisation has resulted in "several gains" and the I-T department between November 9 and January 10 has made more than 1,100 searches and surveys.
"These actions have led to the seizure of valuables of more than Rs 610 crore which included cash of Rs 513 crore.
Seizure of cash in new currency notes was about Rs 110 crore.
The undisclosed income detected in these actions was more than Rs 5,400 crore," Jaitley said.
The minister further said digital transactions have increased to 123.46 crore in December 2016, from 71.27 crore in October 2016. However, it has come down to 111.45 crore during May 2017.
"Fake Indian currency note was dealt a heavy crippling blow by demonetisation. No high quality counterfeit new currency notes have been seized by any agency post demonetisation," he said.
Jaitley said a large amount of currency notes not part of the formal financial system have been deposited with the banks, leading to strengthening of deposit base of financial institutions.
Also, increased cash availability has led the banks to reduce the marginal cost of funds based lending rate by up to 0.90 per cent, enabling the reduction in interest rates on loans.
Banks' exposure to telecom sector at `97,681 crore: FM
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said banks have an exposure of Rs 97,681 crore in the telecom sector, which is grappling with financial stress.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said SBI Chairman has pointed out that stress in the telecom sector has reached "highly unsustainable levels" due to erosion of topline and earnings of the service providers.
Quoting the Reserve Bank of India figure, Jaitley said total outstanding (funded) advances by public sector banks to the 'communications' sector stood at Rs 63,415 crore, while total exposure to the sector worked out to be Rs 97,681 crore.
'Communications' sector include, telecom - fixed network; telecom towers; telecommunications and telecom services.
For public sector banks, the gross Non Performing Asset (NPA) ratio and stressed advances ratio for the sector stood at 3.68 per cent and 11.29 per cent respectively, at the end of 2016-17 fiscal.
Jaitley further said the SBI Chairman (Arundhati Bhattacharya) has made certain recommendations for tackling stress in the sector.
The suggestions, include aligning deferred payment liabilities for spectrum for its life, rationalisation of regulatory charges, quick resolution of litigation on definition of adjusted gross revenues, easing regulation of merger and acquisition.
"Government has already constituted an Inter-Ministerial Group for the sector," the financed minister said.
At present, a portion of spectrum auction amount is taken as upfront payment by Department of Telecommunication, and the rest after a two-year moratorium is paid out every year in 10 instalments.
The Indian telecom industry is locked in an intense tariff war following entry of Reliance Jio.