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26 Dec 2016

Dilemma on foreign note pill - Make-in-India pride standsin way of printing abroad

Jayanta Roy Chowdhury, TT, New Delhi, Dec. 25: The Centre has started looking at the possibility of printing abroad a part of the currency notes required to ease the cash crunch but has so far been unable to overcome its misgivings.
India's embassies in Europe have informally sounded out currency printers to see if the job could be outsourced. Among those contacted are Giesecke & Devrient of Germany and France's FrancoisCharles Oberthur Fiduciaire, sources said.
The enquiries, made since mid-November, have led to the realisation that some of the printers were already printing notes for many countries, including Canada, Britain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Venezuela and the Scandinavian nations.
Some had done the job in the past for India too. However, the possibility of criticism from Opposition parties is standing in the way of the final decision, the sources said.
A meeting of secretaries last week decided not to go ahead with the move "at this point of time". A source said the decision was taken "as it would go against the spirit of the Make in India movement".
The adverse comments made by a parliamentary committee about a previous order to print notes abroad are also weighing on the government. The panel had dubbed the earlier step "an unconventional and uncalled-for measure" and cited the risk of foreign printers printing excess notes and using them.
In 1997-98, the RBI had decided to import 3.6 billion notes printed by German, Canadian, American, French and British companies. Some 2 billion 100-rupee notes and 1.6 billion 500-rupee notes were printed abroad.
The order was placed before India could commission its two new presses at Mysore and Salboni in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
Officials said the panel's fears did not come true but a 2005 series of 500-rupee bank notes printed in India were faked in large quantities.
If the currency crunch shows no sign of easing, some officials feel the government will have little option but to outsource the printing job abroad.

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