What India’s decision to scrap its Rs 2000 note means for its economy

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Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/what-indias-decision-to-scrap-its-rs-2000-note-means-for-its-economy/articleshow/100370860.cms


While the notes will remain legal tender, Indian citizens have been advised to deposit or exchange them by 30 September 2022. The move is expected to boost dwindling deposit rates and aid the banking system’s liquidity. Economists also suggest the move could benefit India’s bond markets in the short term, but could initially pose problems for cash-dependent sectors such as agriculture and construction.

Undated file photo of Rs 2,000 currency note. RBI on Friday, May 19, 2023 announced withdrawal of Rs 2,000 currency notes from circulation and gave public time till September 30 to either deposit such notes in accounts or exchange them at banks. (Photo: IANS)

India will withdraw its highest denomination currency note from circulation, the central bank said on Friday. The 2000-rupee note, introduced into circulation in 2016, will remain legal tender but citizens have been asked to deposit or exchange these notes by Sept. 30, 2023.

The decision is reminiscent of a shock move in 2016 when the Narenda Modi-led government had withdrawn 86% of the economy’s currency in circulation overnight.

This time, however, the move is expected to be less disruptive as a lower value of notes is being withdrawn over a longer period of time, according to analysts and economists.

When 2000-rupee notes were introduced in 2016 they were intended to replenish the Indian economy‘s currency in circulation quickly after demonetisation.

However, the central bank has frequently said that it wants to reduce high value notes in circulation and had stopped printing 2000-rupee notes over the past four years.

“This denomination is not commonly used for transactions,” the Reserve Bank of India said in its communication while explaining the decision to withdraw these notes.


While the government and the central bank did not specify the reason for the timing of the move, analysts point out that it comes ahead of state and general elections in the country when cash usage typically spikes.

“Making such a move ahead of the general elections is a wise decision,” said Rupa Rege Nitsure, group chief economist at L&T Finance Holdings. “People who have been using these notes as a store of value may face inconvenience,” she said.

The value of 2000-rupee notes in circulation is Rs 3.62 lakh crore ($44.27 billion). This is about 10.8% of the currency in circulation.

“This withdrawal will not create any big disruption, as the notes of smaller quantity are available in sufficient quantity,” said Nitsure. “Also in the past 6-7 years, the scope of digital transactions and e-commerce has expanded significantly.”

But small businesses and cash-oriented sectors such as agriculture and construction could see inconvenience in the near term, said Yuvika Singhal, economist at QuantEco Research.

To the extent that people holding these notes choose to make purchases with them rather than deposit them in bank accounts, there could be some spurt in discretionary purchases such as gold, said Singhal.

As the government has asked people to deposit or exchange the notes for smaller denominations by Sept. 30, bank deposits will rise. This comes at a time when deposit growth is lagging bank credit growth.

This will ease the pressure on deposit rate hikes, said Karthik Srinivasan, group head – financial sector ratings at rating agency ICRA Ltd.

Banking system liquidity will also improve.

“Since all the 2000-rupee notes will come back in the banking system, we will see a reduction in cash in circulation and that will in turn help improve banking system liquidity,” said Madhavi Arora, economist at Emkay Global Financial Services.

Improved banking system liquidity and an inflow of deposits into banks could mean that short-term interest rates in the market drop as these funds get invested in shorter-term government securities, said Srinivasan.

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