Demonetisation woes plague MEA: Getting distress calls from NRIs, tourists

“They have asked us the same question… what would they do with the stacks they have. How do they convert those?” asked Swarup.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said NRIs abroad with cash and Indian currency have approached their respective Indian missions.(HT File Photo)
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said NRIs abroad with cash and Indian currency have approached their respective Indian missions.(HT File Photo)
Updated on Nov 18, 2016 12:28 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByHT Correspondent, New Delhi

The external affairs ministry has its own share of demonetisation troubles. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), foreign missions in the Capital, and tourists visiting the country have been grappling with the fallout of the government’s decision to demonetise high-value notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500.

Some of the diplomatic missions have told the MEA that they require higher levels of funds in Indian cash and the existing limits will not be sufficient for them.

“Some of them have said that they collect consular and visa fees. If they are collected in old notes, how will they be deposited and how will they be exchanged,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Those NRIs abroad with cash and Indian currency have also approached their respective Indian missions.

There are specific limits on the amount of Indian currency that can be taken abroad. “But within those limits if somebody has money abroad, and is not travelling to India immediately, what happens? How does he get new notes for those old notes?” Swarup said.

The third issue was raised by the associations of money-changers abroad. “They have asked us the same question… what would they do with the stacks they have. How do they convert those?” asked Swarup. Foreign visitors, especially those coming for medical tourism, have requested higher thresholds.

“We have referred all these matters to the department of economic affairs, which has formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by an officer at the level of an additional secretary. A senior joint secretary from the MEA is also a member and we await their guidance, advice and recommendations, which can then be shared with those various categories that have approached us,” Swarup said.

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