Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that no instructions have been given to banks on stopping issuing notes of Rs 2000 denomination.
"As far as I know, no such instruction has been given to the banks (on stopping issue of Rs 2000 notes)," she said at a meeting with heads of PSU banks.
The Minister's comments come after reports of ATM recalibration to phase out of Rs 2,000 notes and that the largest currency denomination will remain legal tender but would be gradually phased out of public circulation.
A Business Standard report on Wednesday stated that out of the four cassettes present in ATMs, three will be filled with Rs 500 notes, and the fourth will either hold notes of Rs 100 or Rs 200 denominations.
â€śBanks are not putting Rs 2,000 notes back into play as earlier â€” these are going into their currency chests, on way to the Reserve Bank of Indiaâ€™s (RBIâ€™s) vaults,â€ť the report stated.
In fact, former finance secretary Subash Garg had said in November 2019 said that a good number of Rs 2,000 notes are not in circulation, but instead are being hoarded. He said at the time that withdrawing these notes from circulation would not cause disruption.
The FM also said that the merger of 10 PSU banks into 4 consolidated banks is very much on course and there is absolutely no uncertainty regarding this.
"We are on the course on bank mergers... lot of core banking operations regarding the merger are currently going on. There need not be any speculation. We are going as per schedule (of April 1, 2020). There are no uncertainties at all," she said after meeting heads of all PSU banks.
She also said that a total 5.53 lakh MSME accounts have been identified and out of which 5.28 lakh entities have been restructured and the process will be done by March 15.
"So far, a total of 5.53 lakh MSME accounts have been identified and out of which 5.28 lakh entities have been restructured... By March 15, every MSME request must be cleared. Banks have given us information on how many MSMEs restructured reached out, their loans and everything. Few MSMEs that are pending before them, we have requested them to clean out all by March 15," the FM said at the heads of meeting with PSU banks.
Recently, the Reserve Bank of India had extended the restructuring deadline for stressed MSME accounts. The restructuring scheme is applicable for MSMEs up to Rs 25 crore.
Sitharaman, who released the Enhanced Access & Service Excellence-3.0 (EASE-3.0 Agenda) and EASE 2.0 Annual Report, also said that "as soon as the parliament session is over, I have requested the banks to make arrangements and go to one district and the particular branches in that district on a particular day. That one day all the staff will come over after the banking hours to address the grievance of the bank... what additional support is required to get the momentum going".