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Rs 14 lakh crore, 22 billion notes junked: What it means for black money

Rs 14 lakh crore or $217 billion -- 86% of the value of Indian currency currently in circulation -- will become useless from midnight of November 8, 2016 as part of the government’s crackdown on black or unaccounted money.

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 15, 2016 16:47 IST
Abhishek Waghmare
Abhishek Waghmare
IndiaSpend
Black money,RBI,Rs 500
A person counts currency notes of 1000 and 500 denomination in New Delhi.(AP Photo)

Rs 14 lakh crore or $217 billion -- 86% of the value of Indian currency currently in circulation -- will become useless from midnight of November 8, 2016 as part of the government’s crackdown on black or unaccounted money.

Rs 500 notes amount to Rs 7.85 lakh crore (approximately $120 billion), while Rs 1,000 add up to to Rs 6.33 lakh crore ($97 billion), according to the Reserve Bank of India data.

Here are three ways in which this move should affect the black money economy, which according to this 2016 report by a financial research company Ambit Capital forms a fifth of the Indian economy:

1) The sudden announcement will directly affect black money hoarded by Indians, and will possibly give two alternatives -- either deposit the money after identifying themselves to banks, or exchange the money by November 24, 2016.

According to basic calculations, with a daily limit of Rs 4,000 a day, a maximum of Rs 60,000 can be exchanged by a person, in 15 days from November 10 to November 24. From November 24 onwards, the exchange process will be eased for convenience, meaning the exchange limit will be increased. However, there is no limit on deposits.

2) As the deadline for people to declare undisclosed income -- the Income Declaration Scheme -- ended on September 30, 2016, no ‘unaccounted for’ money can be declared now. It ceases to be money, instead it will be a ‘worthless piece of paper’, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed it in his speech.

3) Instances of cash-for-vote prevalent in Indian elections -- in the form of bundles of cash in deligitimised denominations -- may not work anymore. The new currency notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 do not have ‘nano chips’ and cannot be tracked, as WhatsApp forwards have been claiming.

“From midnight November 8, 2016 today, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes are no longer legal tender,” Modi announced in his address to nation. The two highest denominations of bank notes used as cash in India, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, cannot be used for any transaction from Wednesday.

The government had earlier withdrawn old Rs 500 notes from circulation, in effect, demonetising the currency two years back, IndiaSpend had reported in January 2014.

Cheaper money now illegal, costlier money stays

The Rs 1,000 note ‘was’ the cheapest note produced in India.

Rs 1,000 note required only 0.32% of its face value to produce but a Rs 100 note requires 1.8% of its face value, Rs 50 note 3.6%, and Rs 10 note 9.6% to print.

There are 15.7 billion notes of Rs 500 and 6.3 billion notes of Rs 1,000 in circulation in India. Thus, 22 billion notes in the country will need to be junked after midnight.

The move will also have a positive byproduct: individuals and households with no bank accounts -- keeping all income in cash and at homes -- will now have to create bank accounts to deposit money, making financial inclusion indirectly inevitable.

Some relaxations on the use of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have been given to account for special situations, for example, pay hospital bills, transport expenditure and petrol pumps till November 11, 2016.

New notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 will be introduced for circulation from November 10, 2016. Rs 2,000 notes will be monitored and regulated by the RBI.

The sectors that could probably be hit the worst in the short-term could be the bullion and real estate since the two handle a lot of transactions in cash.

Read | Take a look at the new Rs 500, Rs 2000 notes to be circulated soon

First Published: Nov 09, 2016 09:10 IST