18 Jan 2017 13:48 IST

RBI has no idea how much it cost to print the new notes

The apex bank said it doesn’t have the information

The country's central bank has astonishingly revealed that it doesn’t know how much money was spent on printing the new currency notes.

To a Right to Information query filed by BusinessLine on November 25 on the cost of printing the new ₹500 and ₹2,000 notes, the RBI said “the information sought is not available with us”.

“Bank notes are printed by presses under the Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited (BRBNMPL) and the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India (SPMCIL),” the central bank said, while transferring the query to the two agencies.

According to the RBI’s weekly statistical supplement, the total currency in circulation is pegged at ₹8,734.16 lakh crore as on January 6. This includes lower denomination notes as well as the new high denominates notes. While the Bengaluru-based BRBNMPL is yet to respond to the query, the Delhi-based SPMCIL said it has not calculated the cost of printing ₹ 500 notes.

“At present, currency presses under SPMCIL are printing ₹ 500 (new) and below denomination notes. The average cost of printing new ₹500 currency note has not been worked out yet,” it said in its response on January 10, while forwarding the query to two currency printing presses at Dewas and Nashik. A further response is still awaited. In a bid to curb black money and counterfeiting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 announced the withdrawal of the old series ₹500 and scrapping of the ₹1,000 notes, which constituted over three-fourths of the currency in circulation.

The Finance Ministry and the RBI have not answered questions on the cost of printing the new notes, though officials peg it between ₹12,000 crore and ₹17,000 crore.

The cost of printing a note depends on the size and security features, according to a source. It varies between 0.50 paise and ₹4 per note, depending on the denomination, he added.

Between July 2015 and June 2016, the RBI spent ₹3,420 crore on security printing, compared with ₹3,760 crore during 2014-15.

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