Return of Rs 11.85 lakh cr or Rs 11.55 lakh cr in old notes?: How RBI ends up creating confusion

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Mumbai, Dec 9 (IANS) The Reserve Bank of India is the repository of all information regarding currency printing and circulation. Therefore, the details given by senior officials are expected to be accurate.

On Wednesday, during the press conference following the fifth bi-monthly monetary policy committee meeting, Deputy Governor R. Gandhi said Rs 11.85 lakh crore was the total value of the banned Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes that had been returned to the banking system.

A little later, while another question was being asked, he interjected to say “Rs 11.55 lakh crore” which was repeated by RBI Governor Urjit Patel.

Earlier, while replying to the question, Gandhi had said Rs 11 crore, and then paused before softly saying “Rs 11.85 lakh crore… almost Rs 12 lakh crore”.

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In the “edited transcript” released by the RBI, Gandhi’s statement on Rs 11.85 crore was glossed over and the figure, as a reply to the question, showed only Rs 11.55 crore. However, because of the confusion, various media outlets continue to give different figures.

Even curiouser is what happened on figures about the notes supplied to the public. Gandhi said during the press conference that total value of notes supplied to the banks between November 10 and December 5 was Rs 4 lakh crore.

However, the RBI, in the transcript of Gandhi’s announcements released the same day, quoted him as saying that the total value of notes supplied to banks was Rs 3.81 lakh crore. This was the figure that many newspapers later used.

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Yet, the next day when the RBI released the full “edited transcript” of the press conference, the amount of Rs 4 lakh crore was back. Interestingly, the transcript of Gandhi’s statement is no longer available on the site. It says “no data found” when you click on the headline.

A similar sloppiness of approach by Gandhi was in evidence during the press conference on November 8, when RBI officials (and Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikant Das) addressed the press after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement in the evening banning Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

Responding to a question from a reporter on the number of notes in circulation, Gandhi said the total number of Rs 500 in circulation was 16 billion and the number for Rs 1,000 notes was 6.6 billion. In the very next sentence, he said Rs 500 notes in circulation were 16.5 billion and Rs 1,000 notes were 6.7 billion.

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