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The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday allowed the banks for use of quarantined cash, which have completed quarantine period of fourteen (14) days.

In order to control the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) through currency notes, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), on March 23 asked the banks to quarantine the cash received from hospitals and clinics and ensure issuance of 'fit for use' cash to general public.

The banks maintaining the accounts of hospitals and clinics were also directed to make necessary arrangement with them whereby cash collected from hospitals and clinics should be disinfected, sealed and secured separately and be quarantined until further order.

Under the SBP directives, banks are also required to report the quarantined cash on consolidated basis electronically to SBP and the SBP, on receipt of the statement will give credit to banks on the same day and the quarantined cash will be kept by banks with them on behalf of SBP till further orders.

However, now the SBP has decided to allow use of these quarantined notes, which have completed two weeks quarantine period.

According to SBP, central banks' practices on the matter have been reviewed which indicate that quarantine of cash for 14 days is sufficient to disinfect the banknotes, which can then be put back into circulation.

Similarly, the World Health Organization has also advised that the life of the virus on porous surfaces such as paper banknotes is lower, compared to other hard surfaces.

In view of this fact, SBP has allowed banks to use the quarantined cash, which have completed quarantine period of fourteen (14) days. Consequently, the credit given to banks on account of quarantined cash would be reversed on the fifteenth (15th) day from each reported date.

However, the SBP said that the facility of same day credit for quarantined cash introduced on March 23, 2020 will continue with contra debit on 15th day.

It may be mentioned here that the SBP has taken some prudent measures to control the speared of Covid-19 as a number of banking instruments serve as medium of exchange change hands frequently amongst the members of general populace. The surfaces of banknotes, cheques, and coins, like many materials, could serve as a habitat for the virus, as apprehended by some agencies and researchers.

SBP has also directed the banks that the environment of every branch should present the image of a socially responsible banking service. Specifically, the staff engaged in processing banknotes, coins and other banking instruments must be provided with necessary protective gears and provisions such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizers/disinfectants.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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