India central bank says 76% of 2000-rupee notes returned since May

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on Monday 76% of the country’s highest denomination 2000-rupee currency notes – worth 2.72 trillion rupees ($33.19 billion) – have been returned since its decision to withdraw them from circulation.

The RBI said in May it would withdraw these high-value notes, permitting their exchange or deposit until Sept. 30.

The total value of 2000-rupee notes in circulation amounted to 3.62 trillion rupees as on Mar. 31, reducing to 3.56 trillion rupees as on May 19, the RBI said, making the numbers public for the first time since the announcement for withdrawal.

840 billion rupees worth of these notes were currently in circulation, it said.

Data collected from major banks indicated that about 87% of the banknotes received by the lenders was in the form of deposits, while around 13% had been exchanged for other denominations, the RBI said in a press release.

In June, bankers said about three-fourths of Indians were choosing to deposit them into bank accounts rather than exchanging them for smaller denominations.

The 2000-rupee denominated notes were introduced in 2016 with the intention to replenish the Indian economy’s currency in circulation after the government’s shock move to demonetize the economy by scrapping high-value banknotes.

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.

($1 = 81.9514 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Siddhi Nayak; Editing by Swati Bhat and Nivedita Bhattacharjee)