RBI Had Not Printed Rs 2000 Notes In 2019-20, Currency is Still Valid

Rs. 2000 notes were introduced by the Government of India after the announcement of the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupees notes in November, 2016. Currently, it is the highest denomination currency note of the country. According to the annual report of the RBI, the Rs 2000 denomination note was not printed at all during 2019-2020. These notes were introduced after the government announced demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes 4 years back. At that time, those two denominations had accounted for 86% of the then total currency in circulation.

The number of Rs 2,000 denomination notes had peaked at 3.36 billion units in 2017-18. This number had dropped to 3.29 billion in the years 2018-19. It has again fallen to 2.73 billion in 2019-20. The currency note presses of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) did not print even one Rs 2,000 note in the last year. This happened because the presses did not receive any order for printing those. This seems to indicate a conscious decision for starting the trend of decreasing the number of notes which are circulated. The 2000 notes under circulation was 50% in 2016-17 and it has come down to almost 22% in 2019-20. These figures are based on RBI’s Annual Report for 2019-20, which was released on August 25 2020.

It is also known that RBI has also disposed a disproportionate share of Rs 2,000 notes in the soiled category. This has raised many questions on the government’s plan about the 2000 denomination note. In January, 2019 the was an indication that the Rs. 2000 notes were not being printed any further because there was adequate supply.

A total of 176.8 million pieces, which is quite a high number, of Rs 2,000 notes under the category of soiled notes were disposed of in 2019-20 by the RBI. While in 2018-19, just 1 million Rs 2,000 notes were disposed of and in 2016-17 or 2017-18, no Rs 2,000 notes were disposed of. Both the 2000 and 500 denomination notes were introduced after demonetization. In 2019-20, the share of Rs 2000 notes which were disposed of was 6.5% while that of Rs.500 notes was 0.6%. Out of the 22 billion currency notes printed in 2019-20, more than 50% of those were of the Rs 500 denomination. Due to these changes in currency composition, the Rs 500 notes has reached a very high share in the total currency under circulation.

The Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur had told the Lok Sabha on March 16 2020 that, “Printing of bank notes of particular denomination is decided by the government in consultation with RBI to maintain the desired denomination mix for facilitating transactional demand of public. No indent was placed with the presses for printing of Rs 2,000 denomination notes for 2019-20. However, there is no decision to discontinue the printing of Rs 2,000 bank notes.”

A government official said that, “The Rs 2,000 notes were introduced in 2016 to quickly fill the gap created by demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. It was the need of the hour. Gradually, with increased supply of smaller notes, including new notes of Rs 100 and Rs 200, and with growing popularity of digital transactions, the urgency to issue new Rs 2,000 notes is no longer there. But this does not mean that there is any move to discontinue Rs 2,000 notes. Increasingly, commercial banks are also using more and more smaller notes because their customers often find difficulties in getting change for Rs 2,000 notes.”