Money & Banking

Rise in Jan Dhan accounts with zero balance puzzles officials

Surabhi New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018

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In two months of demonetisation, number of accounts and deposits go up

If reports of people channelling their unaccounted money through Jan Dhan accounts are true, one would expect the number of zero-balance accounts to have fallen drastically. But post-demonetisation, the reverse has happened with the percentage of zero-balance accounts having gone up marginally from to 24.6 per cent 23.27 per cent.

Official data reveals that 1.17 crore new accounts were opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana between November 9, 2016 and January 11 this year.

Indicating that more people were channelling their savings into banks, the deposits in such accounts rose by ₹23,395 crore in the period.

An analysis of the trend in deposits indicates that people may have opened bank accounts to deposit their savings but have now begun to withdraw the money.

For instance, on November 9, the total deposits in the 25.51 crore accounts was ₹45,636.61 crore. By December 21, the number of accounts had risen to 26.03 crore while the deposits had also jumped to ₹71,557.90 crore. Of these zero balance accounts constituted 23.86 per cent. However, by January 11, the total deposits had come down to ₹69,027.17 crore.

The cumulative balance in these accounts was reported to have touched a high of ₹87,000 crore by December 23.

Under current norms, deposits are limited to ₹50,000 in such accounts. The withdrawal limit for fully KYC compliant Jan Dhan account holders is ₹10,000 per month. Government officials too expressed surprise at the trend and said it would require closer examination.

Taxman’s lens

Meanwhile, the Income-Tax Department is also understood to be looking into large cash deposits in Jan Dhan accounts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 announced an almost immediate demonetisation of the old series ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes to curb black money and counterfeiting. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had at the time said that those with cash savings at home could deposit it in banks. If they did not have accounts, they could open these under the Jan Dhan scheme.

Special camps were also organised in the period for opening accounts of the poor and daily wage labourers.

However, concerned that these may be used for depositing black money, the Finance Ministry had advised holders of these no-frill accounts to ensure that they were not used by others. Further, despite the government’s focus on direct transfer of subsidies into the bank accounts of beneficiaries, Aadhaar seeding of Jan Dhan accounts continues to be slow. Just 15.36 crore accounts were Aadhaar seeded by January 11, as against 13.69 crore accounts on November 9.

Published on January 18, 2017

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