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Parliamentary Panel Summons RBI Chief Urjit Patel, Seeks Explanation On Notes Ban

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Parliamentary Panel Summons RBI Chief Urjit Patel, Seeks Explanation On Notes Ban

Reserve Bank of India has faced criticism for the cash crunch since Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were banned.

Mumbai: 

Highlights

  1. Parliamentary committee sent list of questions on notes ban to Mr Patel
  2. Mr Patel is already set to testify before another parliamentary committee
  3. RBI Governor has been under pressure ever since notes ban was announced
A parliamentary committee probing the government's decision to scrap Rs 500, 1,000 bank notes, has sent the Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel a list of questions on the demonetisation process and asked him to appear before it on Jan 20.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked the central bank chief to explain how the decision for demonetisation was taken and for details on its impact on the country's economy, PAC Chairman KV Thomas, also a senior member of the opposition Congress party, told Reuters.

Mr Patel, under fire from some politicians over shortages of replacement currency and restrictions on depositing old notes that have caused long queues at banks and ATMs, is already set to testify before another parliamentary committee.

Last month, the RBI unexpectedly kept its key policy rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent, despite calls for action in the face of an intense cash shortage that threatens to slam the brakes on the world's fastest-growing large economy. The bank was widely expected to cut the rate by at least 25 bps.

Pressure on the central bank and Mr Patel has grown since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stunned the country on Nov 8 by abolishing 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, removing 86 per cent of the currency in circulation in a bid to crack down on the "shadow economy".

The PAC has asked Mr Patel to provide details on the value of currency that has been returned to the bank, the quantity of "black money" it has received and the amount of new currency released so far, Mr Thomas said.

Mr Thomas added that the governor has also been asked about the country's preparedness to handle cashless transactions.

"We had decided to call the RBI governor sometime in December but because the prime minister had asked for 50 days, we decided to postpone it to sometime January," Mr Thomas told Reuters. "We did not want to give it a political colour."

Apart from Patel, the PAC has also called other finance ministry officials, including the revenue secretary and finance secretary, Mr Thomas said.
© Thomson Reuters 2017


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