Arun Jaitley passes buck to RBI on removal of withdrawal restrictions


The RBI will remove restrictions on cash withdrawals after assessing market situation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday even as he ruled out interfering with the conditions barring anyone other than NRIs and Indians returning from abroad from depositing the junked notes in select central bank branches.

“RBI will decide by assessing market situation. Many a time, actions are taken in phases, so relaxations are also done in phases,” he said when asked by when restrictions on cash withdrawals are expected to be removed.

Currently, an account holder is allowed to withdraw Rs 24,000 per week from the counters and Rs 4,500 per day from ATM.

The 50-day demonetisation exercise of depositing and exchanging of defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes closed on December 30.

To a question on people not being able to avail the facility due to some genuine reasons, the Finance Minister said this facility was available for everyone and he would not like to interfere with the criteria set by the RBI.

Without committing to any easing of the restrictions for those who failed to avail the window, he said: “People in large number have already exchanged. Only a few are left…we don’t go by… Whatever reason, the RBI has fixed their own criteria. At least, I will respect that criteria.”

When told that the Prime Minister in his November 8 address to the nation had also said that people will have opportunity till March 31 to deposit old notes in select RBI branches, Jaitley said the Prime Minister had specifically said that RBI will fix terms and conditions.

“The word terms and conditions was part of Prime Minister’s address,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation, on November 8 had said, “There may be some who for some reason, are not able to deposit their old 500 or 1,000 rupee notes by December 30, 2016.

“They can go to specified offices of the Reserve Bank of India up to March 31, 2017 and deposit the notes after submitting a declaration form.”

As per the terms and conditions of RBI, NRIs and Indians returning from abroad will have to physically show the junked 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to Customs officials at the airport and get a declaration form stamped before they can deposit the demonetised currency in RBI during the grace period.

Indians who were abroad during November 9 to December 30 have been given a 3-month grace period till March 31 to deposit the junked notes, while for the NRIs, it is six months till June 30.

While there is no limit on deposit of defunct notes by an Indian national who was abroad when the 50-day window was in operation, NRIs can deposit only Rs 25,000 as per FEMA law restrictions. .

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