Forced selling of sweets to customers amid shortage of small denomination notes and coins increasing

Customers often have to accept sweets and other candy items in place of balance cash to be returned by shopkeepers due to shortage of small denomination notes and coins.


(PHOTO: IFP)

There is an increasing trend of forced selling of small cost items such as sweets and other candy items instead of returning balance cash amount to customers by shopkeepers due to the shortage of small denomination currency notes or coins in Manipur.

It would be advisable to carry small notes or coins when venturing out to shop in Manpir else you end up spending a few pennies unwisely. 

“I have to buy essential items from my sales profit of the vegetables but feel hesitant to buy items with price not multiples of 10. All the shopkeepers are forced selling small items instead of returning small change starting from Rs 5 to lesser amount,” said one Ibemhal, a vegetable street vendor at Keishamthong along the roadside of Mayai Lambi (Irabot road).

She was speaking to the Imphal Free Press regarding the problem of lack of small denomination notes and coins in the market.

Ibemhal is in her seventies now. She told IFP that during her younger days, in the 90’s, small denomination currency notes and coins were available in Imphal in abundance. But since the last few years, shopkeepers have stopped returning small changes. Instead, they have no option but to sell small cost items to customers. It is at an advantage for the shopkeepers, but disadvantage for customers.

“The issue of forced selling small cost items might not affect the rich but for people living below the poverty line like us, it has affected us greatly. For us, every penny counts,” Ibemhal said.

Replying to a query, Ibemhal told the Imphal Free Press, “I also forced sell my vegetables to my customers instead of returning small change. But for me being illiterate, how can I go to exchange small denomination notes and coins from banks. Moreover, these days, no customers come with coins to buy vegetables”.

Amid the lack of small denomination currency notes and coins, the poor population in Manipur have been facing serious economic problems but the issue is being neglected and their plight continues.

One departmental store owner in Imphal, Nongmaithem Rajen told IFP during an interaction, “I want to give small money and even coins to the customers but from where can I get these small denomination notes and coins. I went to most of the banks to exchange small denomination notes but most of the banks replied the same that they do not have coins or small denomination notes”.

“I tried to return small change instead of selling small cost items. But I have no option when there is lack of small denomination notes or coins to return to my customers,” Ranjit asserted.

One Rahul from Bengaluru told the Imphal Free Press over the phone that such an issue of lack of small denomination notes and coins does not occur in Bengaluru. He said in small shops or street stalls, the sellers return even Re 1 and Rs 2 coins to their customers.

“Most of the transactions in the city today is done through electronic transactions, which may be the reason there is no issue of small denomination notes or coins,” said Rahul.

Under the initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), a zero balance saving account was started. The scheme was implemented by the Modi-led government in 2014 and it offers financial access to those across the country and for those who do not have any bank account especially in rural areas. Under certain various benefits almost all the people across the country were advised to open a saving bank account.

The practice of e-transaction, perhaps, could solve the issue of lack of small denomination notes or coins.

One Tumba from Khagempalli told the Imphal Free Press during an interaction that shopkeepers are selling small items forcibly to customers. The authority concerned should set up rules to avoid such culture of forcibly selling instead of returning change when items are bought. Various problems could have occurred if the customers started the old barter system of trade with shopkeepers, he added.

Chief manager of State Bank of India, Paona branch, Imphal, Manipur, H Timmy Gangte told the Imphal Free Press in an interview that all the denomination notes, including coins are issued from regional office, Reserve Bank of India, Guwahati, Assam. The bank requested the regional office to include small denomination notes and coins but the regional office usually issues only denomination notes ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 500 notes, he added.

Gangte said in neighboring states like Nagaland, small denomination notes and coins are available abundantly. Timmy said for Manipur the currency notes are sent from the regional office, RBI, Guwahati by air. That may be the reason for not sending small denomination currencies as such small denominations can occupy more space as compared with larger denomination currency notes, he added.

As per reliable sources, it is said that Manipur does not have an issue department of RBI and due to the reason, the state has been facing the issue of lack of small denomination currencies since years.

RBI Imphal branch was inaugurated as a sub-office and for the reason there is no issue department of RBI. If the RBI Imphal branch is upgraded to regional office, then the issue department could be established, the source said.

In Manipur, there is a trend of giving ‘dakshina’ (complimentary amount starting from Rs 10 and above) during various ceremonial occasions. Hence, in the state, there is a high demand for small denomination currency notes, especially Rs 10 currency notes as compared with other states of the country. However, as the same quantity of same currency notes is issued by the RBI regional office to different states of Northeast India, the issue of lack of small denomination notes persists, the source added.

First Published:March 21, 2021, 11:37 p.m.

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