Tamil Nadu

Touts profiting from currency crackdown

I just exchanged Rs.10,000 for Rs. 9,300 says Yuvaraj, of Poovathi near Rayakottai. He didn’t have a choice. “I was already a week late in paying wages to the farm workers,” says the farmer, growing tomatoes. “Also, I didn’t have cash to buy pesticides.”

Following the demonetisation, a local currency exchange touts have emerged.

These locals-turned-touts charge exorbitant commission for exchange of notes from the villagers.

Welcome to the villages, serviced poorly by unstaffed banks. It is Rs.100 commission to exchange the demonetised Rs.500 note. “He can afford to forego Rs.700, but that is three-day wages for us,” says Munuthayi. But, people spend a whole day in the bank and return with Rs.1,000. Can we afford to do that,” asks Rukamma.

These women may discuss all they want,while deweeding the field of purple Marigolds. But, none of them has a single rupee in the potlis, only some left over betel nuts.

Bent in the midst deweeding is Lakshmi, the farm owner. She is worried about how the women will get paid. The payment date was Wednesday, the day after demonetisation was announced.

Awaiting their wages, the women share the betel nuts to keep away hunger.

The cash-based village economy - and its inter-dependent labour between the farm labourer and the marginal farm owners, with the latter supplementing with family labour - is evidently derailed. Yes, it’s a commission of Rs.100 to exchange Rs.500. When there is no money for food, Rs.400 is good enough for some, said a man, unwilling to be named.

On Friday, Perumal went to the bank at 9 a.m. to deposit Rs.10,000. He returned to his cucumber field at 4 p.m.

The nationalised bank at Nagamangalam had given him only Rs.4,000 and he had four workers to pay.

Incidentally, when this correspondent, visited the headquarters branch of the same bank in Krishnagiri on Thursday, a customer who had deposited Rs.10,000 had withdrawn the entire amount.”

The branch manager had told The Hindu that the withdrawal limit for deposit was Rs.10,000.

The rural branches are channelled with less cash. The rural populace neither have multi-bank accounts, nor hold ATM cards.

The ATMs in these areas were never loaded with money like the rest of the country on Friday.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:54:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Touts-profiting-from-currency-crackdown/article16448452.ece

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