Finance minister Arun Jaitley said 22,500 ATMs will be programmed on Thursday to dispense new currency that have a fresh design and size but the move may fail to unclog snaking queues outside banks and teller machines across India.
The government has struggled to dispense cash to millions of Indians who have lined up to exchange or deposit their old currency after a shock recall of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes last week.
“Thousand rupee notes will not be reintroduced as of now,” Jaitley said, according to ANI.
One of the primary bottlenecks is that the new Rs 2,000 note has a new size, weight and design – which the ATMs are not programmed to dispense.
But even Thursday’s announcement will serve just around 10% of India’s more than 200,000 ATMs. The government has previously admitted that the entire exercise of recalibrating ATMs will take at least three weeks.
In a bid to ease crowding outside banks, the government announced on Thursday that the limit for a one-time exchange of old notes was slashed from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000. Jaitley said the move was aimed at reducing the misuse of funds, reported ANI.
The minister also described the decision to let families withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh for weddings as a “big relief” for the common man, ANI added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes was aimed at stamping out illegal cash and counterfeit currency from the economy.
But a bumpy execution has left the poor, small traders, farmers and women left with little cash in hand to even meet daily expenses.
This has provided ammunition to opposition parties that have targeted the government over the “anti-poor” move in Parliament, which was repeatedly adjourned on Thursday.