Meghalaya to feel the pinch of demonetization while nation debates on cashless transaction

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Editorial

Thomas Lim
The Central Government is still reluctant to remove the withdrawal limitation in banks although the ATMs withdrawal have been increase from Rs 2500 to Rs 4500 since January 1, 2017 but in the total absence of new Rs 500 notes, this is not serving any real purposes. On the other hand the Reserve Bank of India is yet to publish the total amount of the banned notes collected within the 50 days and has given rise to the question, if the huge exercise was a total failure, due to the unethical banking practices witnessed during the demonetization where huge amount of new Rs 2000 notes had reached the money laundering market. This has been seen as a betrayal of the very motive to fight against black money.

Meghalaya was not as severely affected by demonetization as the rest of the states, except in the rural unbanked sectors, where most of the indigenous tribal are yet to open an account in the bank. While in the urban sectors, where above 80 percent of the population are Government employees, have been receiving their monthly salary via banks since late 1990s, after numerous bank robberies by the armed groups during the first week of the month. Most of the government transactions too are being carried out either via State Treasury as Party Bill or directly transferred to the bank account of the recipient.
Whereas the daily wage earners and small business houses in the state were the most affected by the note ban of November 8, 2016, however, Meghalaya was not as badly affected as the rest of the states, due to a few reasons. Firstly, most of the labourers do have bank account in order to avail ATM services, so also for the student community who hail from the rest of the state are accessing their pocket money via the ATM, but the delay in recalibration of the ATM machines to dispense the new notes had created panic in the first few weeks. People in the state are now being harassed as mentioned due to the absence of the new Rs 500 notes.
Meghalaya is known face a dry season for business in the months of January and February, as most of the students return to their home state, while the people here go out for tours. As they returned back, it is the time for new academic calendar, hence, the main expenses for the common people are the school fees, books and new set of uniform to school bags.
The wallet payment is still not popular in the state, while most of the books stores deal on cash payments. Also, most of the private schools in the urban sectors are selling all the books and exercises books, including uniforms from the school itself or through the authorized stall. In most of the schools, they only receive cash but the school fees are being paid via the bank.
Under such common practices, the parents are now worrying about the current situation, while they were not at all affected during the 50 days period. It is time for the state government to review the situation and instruct all the education institutions to install swipe machines, especially those who are selling the books and uniforms from the school office, or to accept cheque payment which is not at all popular in Meghalaya, so also in the case of Demand Draft.
One of the phobias of Indian society in using the plastic payment card is the cases of fraud which may arise, as there are already a number of complaints of organized rackets of duping innocent plastic card holders, neither the Bank authority nor the government could come out with any assurance of total security. Even now, here in the state as witnessed there are deposit and withdrawal machine installed even in a few of the rural sectors falling along National Highways, none of the customers prefer to use them, (although these are now closed as the machines can only take the old notes) instead opted to stand in the queues to deposit the cash at the counter of the bank. This is evident of how difficult it is if the nation goes cashless without sensitizing the public, where cash is considered as a form of Goddess Lakshmi- The Goddess of Wealth.
The Central Government should relax the withdrawal limits at the earliest, as the nation will still take time to go completely cashless with regard to transactions, while here in Meghalaya; the actual pinch of demonetization will be felt as the schools reopen after the winter break, if proper arrangements are not made.


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