People facing hard time getting new banknotesIt was raining when Sunita Ghimire got out of home in Ason early on Tuesday morning. She was headed for the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) office in Thapathali. She wanted to collect new banknotes for the Dashain festival.
It was raining when Sunita Ghimire got out of home in Ason early on Tuesday morning. She was headed for the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) office in Thapathali. She wanted to collect new banknotes for the Dashain festival.
“I reached here at around 4:45am,” said Ghimire, an eighth grader at Durbar High School. “I just collected new banknotes. It is 12:30pm now. Now I have to return home in this scorching heat,” she added as she checked time. “I have not eaten anything.”
Ghimire’s parents run a business at Ratnapark and had sent her to collect new banknotes for Dashain.
Arjun Prasad Gyawali, a government official, said he had applied for leave at his office to collect new banknotes. When he was returning home in Jorpati, it was 4:30pm.
“I stood in the queue since 8am. I had no option than to take leave from office,” said Gyawali, who works at the Urban Health Division of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, who is planning to leave for his hometown in Gulmi to celebrate the festival. “I have not got bus tickets yet.”
Like Ghimire and Gyawali, hundreds of people have been waiting in lines for hours at the NRB office to collect new banknotes.
The central bank started distributing new banknotes from Sunday. The counters open at 10am but people start queuing up since early morning.
Some said the NRB should open the counters early. “If the pressure is so high, why does not the bank open its counters early?” wondered Suroj Devkota, who said he had arrived at the bank at 6am.
When asked about the trouble the general public is facing, NRB Executive Director Trilochan Pangeni said, “People start visiting our office only when the festival approaches near. We distribute [new] banknotes throughout the year. At least they can start visiting the bank a month before Dashain starts.”
But people say they don’t have enough cash to exchange for new bills.
“Monthly salary is just enough for daily expenses in Kathmandu. It’s the festival bonus that we exchange for new banknotes,” said Bishnu Maya Sitaula from Darchula, who works for a private company in Kathmandu.
The NRB has set up eight counters, which are manned by 45 staff, to distribute banknotes to the general public.
Bank officials said new banknotes worth around Rs 1.3 billion have been distributed in the last three days.
In view of growing pressure, the bank has been providing exchange facilities till 9pm.
“We have not sent a single person without providing new notes,” said Pangeni. The NRB will distribute new banknotes till Friday.