Indian finance minister vows quick fix to currency shortages


India’s ailing finance minister Arun Jaitley assured citizens on Tuesday that the country has sufficient cash to meet its economic needs, amid reports of a widespread currency shortage, with ATMs in many regions running dry simultaneously.

Mr Jaitley, who has been working from home while undergoing treatment for kidney problems, said certain regions are suffering a “temporary shortage” of currency but vowed the problem would be “tackled quickly.”

“Have reviewed the currency situation in the country,” Mr Jaitley tweeted. “Overall, there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the banks.”

The empty ATM’s have revived memories of the disruption after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic November 2016 ban on the use of high-value bank notes, which then accounted for 86 per cent of the cash in circulation.

In a press statement on Tuesday, the finance ministry said India had “unusual spurt in currency demand in the country in the last three months.”

India’s cash in circulation is now back to the pre-demonetisation levels of nearly $284bn as of April 6, but the cash-to-GDP ratio remains lower at around 10.9 per cent, compared to the pre-cash ban level of 12 per cent.

The finance ministry said India’s currency supply had been increased by nearly $7bn in the first thirteen days of April, with demand for cash particularly strong in several southern and northern states, including Karnataka, which is holding state legislative assembly elections next month.

The ministry said the government “would be supplying adequate currency notes to meet even higher levels of demand if such demand were to continue in the coming days/months.”

“The government is taking all steps to ensure that ATMs are supplied with cash and to get non-functional ATMs normalised at the earliest,” it said.



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