To ease the cash crunch in the system created after the government’s demonetisation drive, retail fuel outlets, between November 9 and December 31, disbursed Rs 209 crore through 2,600 outlets.
However, queues at banks and ATMs have shortened now, and according to the Reserve Bank of India, new currency notes worth R9.2 lakh crore have been injected into the system out of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes pulled out.
Post November 8, the government took a slew of steps to ease the cash crunch in the country. The petroleum and natural gas ministry too started an initiative and to ease the burden on banks and ATMs, it allowed cash withdrawal of Rs 2,000 per debit card from few fuel retail outlets run by the oil marketing companies. Withdrawals were made through point-of-sale (PoS) machines provided by banks.
Though the Rs 209 crore is minuscule in terms of the total that is required to pull the cash situation in the country back to the pre-demonetisation stage, a petroleum ministry official, requesting not to be named, said the initiative was a “helping hand” to ease the situation and support the banking system which was under stress.
The petroleum ministry is also offering a 0.75% discount on digital purchase of petroleum products. As on December 31, out of the total 53,522 fuel retail outlets across the country, 49,644 have e-wallet facility while 33,169 have PoS machines. This means at least 70% of the outlets have digital infrastructure.
An oil marketing company executive, requesting anonymity, told FE that the industry is in constant dialogue with the banks to provide the digital transaction infrastructure at rest of the outlets as well, especially in remote areas, but connectivity is a hurdle.
The Narendra Nodi-led government plans to move towards a less-cash economy and has already made its intention clear to provide incentives for cashless payments which may be announced in the upcoming Budget.