Treasuries all over the state saw long queues since morning, with mostly pensioners waiting patiently to draw their monthly pension on the first day of the month.

Keralas treasuries face cash crunch on payday pensioners slog it out in long queues
news Demonetisation Thursday, December 01, 2016 - 16:54

“Out of the 222 treasuries in the state, transactions are yet to start in 42 of them. Being the first day of the month and in the backdrop of demonetization, queues have almost doubled up. If usually 1000 people come to collect their pension or salary, today we have close to 2000 standing outside,” says a weary Treasury official at the Directorate of Treasuries at Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram.

On Thursday, Treasuries all over the state saw long queues since morning, with mostly pensioners waiting patiently to draw their monthly pension on the first day of the month. Giving them company were people whose salaries are credited in the Treasury Savings Bank.

All the 42 Treasuries that have no money are located in rural areas.

Speaking to The News Minute on conditions of anonymity, the Treasury official believes that the long queues are indicative of the prevailing uncertainty over the reported cash crunch faced by the state government.

“Even those who normally don’t drop in on the first day have landed here to draw money due to them. But till now, we have been able to cater to only 20% of the crowd. Of the Rs 150 crores that we asked in order to pay the monthly salaries and pensions, only Rs 75 crores have been received as of now. We are however hopeful of getting the rest of the amount today itself,” he shares.

Keeping in mind the expected delay, the Directorate will function till six in the evening on Thursday. “Daily cash transactions at the Directorate are normally wound up by 3.30 in the afternoon. But we have decided to keep working till six this evening to be able to dispense salaries and pensions to as many people as we can,” he says.

Every Treasury in the state is linked to a bank through which it receives the money which is then used to pay salaries and pensions of serving and retired state government employees, as well as salaries of daily wage labourers and contingent employees employed by the state government.

Addressing the media in a press meet on Thursday, Kerala finance minister Dr. Thomas Isaac reiterated that the financial crisis could worsen in the state already reeling under the recent demonetization blow by the Centre, if more money did not arrive by evening.

Reports say that Thiruvananthapuram Treasury received only Rs 15 crores of the Rs 20 crores demanded. In Kottayam, out of the Rs1.5 crore, Rs 30 lakhs were received and disbursed on payday.

In Nedumangad Treasury, Rs 5000 were given to all, irrespective of how much was due to each, due to acute cash crunch. Officials feared they would run out of cash.

Dr. Isaac held that the Centre was equally responsible in ensuring that people got at least Rs 24,000 –the maximum withdrawal limit mandated by the Union Government in the current scenario.

He added that given the crisis, special instructions have been issued to all Treasuries to let people know which ones had enough money to dispense, and that Core Banking would ensure easy implementation of the same.

The Directorate of Treasuries credit the salaries of around five lakh people in the state directly into their bank accounts, while around 50,000 people withdraw cash from the various Treasuries in the state.  

(All photographs by Sreekesh Raveendran Nair)