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Digital India? Cash-strapped BEST faces Rs 10 crore-worth change issue as coins pour in

FE Online

Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) has been paying part of its employee salary in coins since December 2018 as the firm has Rs 10 crore worth coins lying. Despite several letters to 13 banks to get these coins changed into cash or deposited in banks, the firm has got no response after which, it has approached the RBI, The Indian Express reported. The company has been getting excess coins since July 2018 due to slashing of minimum fares to Rs 5, Rs 10 and so on from Rs 8 for a minimum of 2 km to Rs 34 for 20 km earlier. The conductors of the company have also complained that coins are difficult to carry because of weight. 

"About 70 per cent of our daily ticket sales of Rs 2 crore are in coins. Most of these are Rs 5 coins, which are heavy. We face difficulty carrying them as well as calculating them at the end of the day and depositing them in banks," a senior BEST official said, the newspaper reported. Another official said that the company has been in talks with the RBI to come up with a solution. "In the meanwhile, we would request our customers to make digital payments as much as possible," BEST General Manager Surendrakumar Bagde said, the newspaper reported. 

About 32 lakh commuters use the BEST services daily and the public transport services cover 90% of the area. With the coins pouring in, cash flow at BEST has been hampered and the management has conveyed the problem to RBI on December 31. The company even procured coin-counting machines and opened exchange centres across for citizens and traders to get coins against higher denomination notes. In its bid to get rid of coins, the company even approached toll operators but to no avail. "The operators were willing to take the coins as well as to give an incentive of Rs 5 extra on change of every Rs 1,000, but the talks fell flat after the National Highway Authority of India enforced FASTags." Increase in digital transactions and inflation has also hit the demand for coins.