demonetisation rbi urjit patel finmin shaktikanta das press conference modi govt arun jaitley debate crisis notes bank rs 500 rs 1000
When asked about the banks not being prepared to handle such a huge cash crunch, Patel said that demonetisation was a "once in a lifetime event" since it is extremely "rare to remove 86 per cent of the currency in circulation in one go."Reuters file

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel last addressed the media on November 8, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the drastic announcement to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Patel's silence since then has become a matter of speculation, though the finance ministry has shrugged it off.

"It is not relevant who speaks. I am speaking on behalf of the government. I am not speaking here in my individual capacity. So, therefore, it is irrelevant whether I am speaking or somebody else is speaking," Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday, reported PTI.

His response came when media asked him about Patel's silence on the developments since the decision to scrap the two denominations that triggered currency crunch across India.

"Let's not do these things. For communication purposes, it is irrelevant who addresses. The idea is government should communicate and give out all the information," Das said.

In addition to problems faced by people while withdrawing cash at ATMs and bank branches, there have also been instances of cash meant for ATMs being robbed (as in Bengaluru), in addition to reports of bank staff conniving with unscrupulous elements to launder black money for a commission.

Besides, statistics reveal that Rs 21,000 crore has been deposited into Jan Dhan accounts (financial inclusion) ever since the demonetisation decision was taken, raising doubts of bank accounts being used to convert black money into white.

"We are getting some complaints that suddenly monies have popped up in the Jan Dhan accounts, so there is a misuse and that is why the rationing in initial days takes place," Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

There were 25.44 crore Jan Dhan accounts as of November 2, 2016, according to a finance ministry update. In these accounts, customers can hold up to a maximum of Rs 50,000.

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