There has been a marked decline in bank based transactions with out of bank settlements increasing.
According to the latest annual report of the State Bank of Pakistan, deposit mobilisation has seen a sharp decline in fiscal year 2015-2016. Currency circulation on the other hand has seen a record high growth in the same time period.
Despite an increase in money creation, overall deposit mobilisation still saw a decline. The public preference now seems to be towards the currency.
Highest Ever Growth in Currency Circulation
The fiscal year 2015-2016 ended with highest ever annual growth in currency in circulation. Now that more money is being printed with less coming back, it is safe to conclude that most of the transactions are being done out of banks. Hard cash is preferred over bank transfers in simple words.
Currency growth in 2015-2016 was 30.5 percent. This level of currency circulation was previously seen during 1972-1973 fiscal year, at the time of East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh.
A reason for this may be the withholding tax on transactions that was applied this year on non-cash banking transactions – cross-cheques, demand drafts, pay orders etc – undertaken by non-filers.
Business Community’s Woes
The business community has been very vocal about this issue, asking the finance minister to revoke the tax. According to the SBP report,
It is important to recall here that the business-sector deposits, which constitute nearly a third of total (non-government) bank deposits, are used primarily to facilitate their voluminous transactions. Therefore, a tax on these transactions over and above usual business levies (like income tax, sales tax, FED etc) is surely an added burden,
Originally the withholding tax applied on these transactions was 0.6 percent which was lowered to 0.4 percent where it currently stands.
Business Community Looking for Other Methods
Because of the problems faced by the business community due to the tax, they have turned to other methods for their transactions. Prize bonds, dollars and bank lockers are being used instead of direct transactions through bank accounts. The report by SBP also suggests that the imposition of the tax on banking transactions was wrong.
Business sector bank deposits have seen a big decline for this reason.
Monetary expansion in 2014-2015 was 13.2 percent while corporate deposits increased by 9.4 percent. While in FY 2015-2016 corporate desposits increased by a mere 1.2 percent while monetary expansion stood at 13.7 percent.