Business Bureau ;
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the reply to CAIT hinted that the currency notes could be carriers of bacteria and viruses including COVID-19 and therefore Government should promote digital payments to avoid handling of currency. CAIT which is highly vocal and active on this issue since more than a year wrote a letter to the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman on March 9, 2020 asking her to clarify, whether the currency notes are the carriers of bacteria and viruses or not which was forwarded to RBI.
The RBI in its reply to the CAIT through a mail on October 3, has given such indication. In the reply of RBI stated, “In order to limit the coronavirus pandemic, the public can make payment by sitting at home through various online digital channels like mobile banking, internet banking, cards, etc., and avoid using/withdrawing cash to the extent possible. Moreover, the public health guidelines on COVID-19 issued by the authorities from time to time are required to be strictly followed.” CAIT National President B C Bhartia & Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that the issue of currency notes carrying bacteria and viruses is very important and the CAIT had raised this issue several times in the past to the Ministers of the Government and other authorities.
This is the first time, the RBI has given a reply but has very smartly avoided to answer the basic question. However, the RBI could not deny the fact and their reply fully indicates that the currency notes do carry viruses and bacteria and therefore the maximum usage of digital payments to avoid handling of currency notes is advised by them. Bhartia and Khandelwal jointly said that Annual Report of RBI released on August 29, 2019 mentioned that “The value and volume of banknotes in circulation increased by 17.0 per cent and 6.2 per cent to Rs 21,109 billion and 1,08,759 million pieces, respectively, during the period of 2018-19. In value terms, the share of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 banknotes, which had together accounted for 80.2% of the total value of banknotes in circulation at end-March 2018, increased to 82.2 per cent by the end of March 2019.”
Both Bhartia and Khandelwal urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman to take cognisance of the reply of the RBI and immediate steps must be taken to minimise the usage of cash in the country. Therefore, an incentive scheme should be announced for acceptance and adoption of digital payments, CAIT said.