There is a great shortage of coin currency and small denomination currency in the market. The problem is so alarming that the common man is forced to think twice before entering a restaurant or a shop to have a cup of tea or to purchase some grocery, else he may have to spend more than what he intends to.
And it is getting worse by the day with more and more traders and merchants resorting to unfair trade practices like handing over candies or issuing coupons (which they will ask you to exchange with money during your next visit).
Sometimes they even coerce the customers into buying some unwanted things for the balance amount, which they are supposed to return to you.
“What can we do? We are helpless because we cannot purchase change in the market by paying high commissions and we are not getting any help from the bankers,” says the manager of a small restaurant in the city.
And whatever change they get from the bank is hardly enough for them, claims the owner of another restaurant. “We make about 3,000 receipts everyday and we have to give change to almost every customer,” he adds.
Some shopkeepers are ready to even forego or lose some business rather than dealing with the problem of change when they find a “rigid” customer, who is unwilling to buy some unintended article for the balance amount.
A few of them adjust the commodity being purchased to the nearest round figure amount. They claim that they “buy” change from commission agents at high rates (at Rs.10 extra for change of Rs.100) to facilitate their business.
A general merchant says angrily: “Why should we go to the bank and stand in long queues for hours together to take the change of just Rs. 100 or Rs. 200 which is hardly sufficient for our requirements.”
Though the bankers admit that there is short supply of change from the Reserve Bank, they blame the Central government for its decision to stop printing of notes of Rs.1, 2 and 5 due to infrastructural problems or high printing cost.
The tendency of the people not to carry change from home, even if they have it, because of the weight of the coins, is also one of the major factors for the shortage of change, they point out. Some change hoarders are also to be blamed for creating artificial demand by storing it to get commission, says the manager of a bank. “Because some hoteliers and shopkeepers ‘purchase’ change, more and more people have started storing it,” he says.