As Eidul Fitr approaches, there has been a great shortage of new currency notes at nearly all private banks.
According to bank officials, the greatest shortage has been witnessed at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) branches in Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur ahead of Eid. Dozens of residents were seen arguing with bank officials in the district on Monday and Tuesday after they said they had been waiting for hours to get new currency notes. “It was the responsibility of the banks to ensure that they had new currency. Everyone knows that the demand for new currency notes is extremely high before Eid and yet we have tried three different banks and been turned away,” said a Pasrur resident Muhammad Malik Athar.
Local residents as well as account holders at several private banks as well as the National Bank have protested, saying that the bank authorities should have made preparations in this regard. “So many new currency notes have been printed but the banks say they are out. What are we to do on Eid, when we have to give out eidi?” said a Sambrial resident Maroofa Bibi. “My husband and I have each tried to get fresh notes at different banks and we were turned away. We have been standing in lines for two days,” she added.
People standing in long queues outside the NBP District Courts Branch in Sialkot and in other banks told reporters that bank officials were only giving new currency notes to private currency dealers by taking a commission. “All the while, they have been telling us they don’t have any new notes but we have seen currency dealers walk out with them,” said a protester Zulfiqar. “These currency dealers later sell the same notes at inflated rates in the local markets,” he added.
Meanwhile, bank officials said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was not providing them with enough new notes. “We had asked for a shipment of new currency notes ahead of the Eidul Fitr but this was not sent in on time. It is not our responsibility,” said an SBP official.
When contacted, the concerned officials of SBP Sialkot said that new currency notes in different denominations have already been provided to almost all the scheduled private banks as per their demands.
However, the SBP officials declined to comment over the shortage of the new currency notes in some districts. “We have released a supply of currency notes to each district, the rest is the responsibility of the individual bank branches,” he added. PPI
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2011.
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