When asked whether 97 percent of banned notes had been returned to the banks, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's had a short reply: "I don't know."
The question followed from a Bloomberg report on Wednesday which said that banks have received ₹14.97 trillion out of the ₹15.4 trillion, which was put out of circulation in the Modi government's demonetisation drive.
The government had initially estimated about ₹5 trillion rupees of the ₹15.4 trillion rupees would be black money.
If it turns out that only three percent of the banned ₹500 and ₹1,000 has not been returned, it would seriously compromise the Modi government's claim that demonetisation is key to combating black money and corruption. With only three percent unaccounted for, the Modi government would have to explain why 86 percent of India's cash was rendered illegal.
The Reserve Bank of India said today that it was still collating the data.
"Now that the Scheme has come to an end on December 30, 2016, these figures would need to be reconciled with the physical cash balances to eliminate accounting errors/ possible double counts etc. RBI has already initiated this process and till this is completed any estimate may not indicate the actual numbers of the SBNs (Specified Bank Notes) that have been returned," RBI said.
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