In a major relief to millions of common man, who are scrambling across the country to exchange their old notes and pay their utility bills, the Centre on Monday extended the relaxation on using old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes until November 24 for certain transactions.
This is for the third time that government has extended the exemption dates as earlier the exemption had been allowed till the midnight of November 11 and then extended till midnight of November 14.
The decision to extend the time limit was taken during a late night meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with senior ministers in the wee hours of Monday. At the meet that was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Urban Development Minister Venkaih Naidu, it was decided to extend the date of accepting old series of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 for certain categories till November 24 as people are struggling a lot to get cash from banks.
“Currently the government has given exemption to certain category of transactions where old series of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes can be accepted this limit for such exemptions is being extended from November 14 midnight to November 14 midnight to ensure greater public convenience,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters on Monday.
The exemption list includes payments towards fees, charges, hospital bills, petrol pumps, taxes and penalties payable to the central and state governments, including municipal and local bodies. Such old notes will also be accepted for making payment of utility charges for water and electricity, etc.
At the meeting, it was also reviewed about the current status of supply of cash and took certain decisions to further activate the dispensing of cash through the networks of banking correspondents, post offices, ATMs, banks and e-payment systems.
In a bid to facilitate smooth movement of passengers at airports, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to suspend the collection of parking charges at all airports till the midnight of November 21, while to ensure smooth movement of traffic on national highways, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to extend the suspension of fees on all toll plazas on National Highways across the country till the midnight of November 18.
Earlier the exemption had been allowed till the midnight of November 11, which was then extended till November 14.
Among the other necessary measures to make available cash in banks, the Reserve Bank of India has started using choppers to replenish treasuries and cash chests with new notes.
Commenting on this, an RBI official said, “Though use of choppers for refilling treasuries and cash chests are routine process, but we have increased the frequency of choppers’ movement as cash transactions have increased manifold after the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. The services of choppers are being used for replenishing treasuries in suburban areas.”
In addition to other measures, all central government departments and public sector enterprises are being instructed to use the method of e-payments to the maximum extent possible. The RBI has advised National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to waive its transaction charges on transactions settled through National Financial Switch (NFS) till December 31. The banks are also being advised to waive similar charges currently levied by them.
“Adequate cash will be made available with district central cooperative banks (DCCBs) to facilitate withdrawal from existing accounts. The cash withdrawal limits for banks will apply in case of DCCBs too,” the official release said.
On Sunday evening the Finance Ministry had also announced that the limit to exchange the now defunct Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes for freshly minted Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes was increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 per day. Cash withdrawal limit at ATMs was also hiked to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,000 a day.