Mumbai: Submerged in a sea of coins, approximately Rs10 crore-worth, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has decided to pay its employee salaries, partly in cash and coins. Coins and small denomination notes have been pouring in ever since BEST slashed its minimum fare to Rs 5 in July 2019.
On payday, employees will receive up to Rs 10,000 of their salaries in cash -- Rs 100, Rs 50 and Rs 20 notes while Rs 2,000 will be paid in coins. The remainder of their salaries will be paid in the form of bank transfers.
There are 27 BEST depots in Mumbai, from where contractors appointed by its banking partner - ICICI - transfer the cash to the undertaking's account daily.
The existing contract between BEST and ICICI lapsed in July 2018 and has not been renewed since. On a goodwill basis, both continued working with each other, until recently, when the ICICI said its contractors were finding it difficult to lift the cash regularly as consignments had grown progressively heavier, as the number of coins had increased. Further, the bank claimed, it did not have adequate space in its lockers to store them, nor is it ready to accept cash in smaller denomination notes.
As a result, the BEST accounts department is now holding Rs 50 crore in coins and smaller denomination notes.
However, ICICI Bank officials refused to comment on the matter.
“We will be floating a new tender to partner with a new bank. Both BEST and the ICICI are working on goodwill, hence we had requested them to continue their services until we found a new banking partner,” said a BEST official.
“Revenue worth Rs 50 crore is lying idle with the accounts department. It is unsafe to keep such a huge amount as BEST doesn't have adequate infrastructure to safeguard the funds,” said BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya.
Meanwhile, the management has instructed the divisional heads of every depot to transfer two staffers to the ticket and cash department, who will count and hand over the revenue to officials, which will then be paid out in salaries.