Expats in UAE seek solution to Indian currency woes
Abu Dhabi, Dec 22 (IANS) As the deadline to exchange demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 Indian currency notes looms, the expatriates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have expressed their concerns that they might not be able to exchange the notes before the deadline.
Several expats say they are surprised that the Indian government has not announced any reprieve for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), as many of them would not be able to travel to India before the last date to exchange the demonetised currency, said a report in Gulf News on Wednesday.
The expats say they want the Indian government to make arrangements here in the UAE to exchange the invalid notes.
Almost each of an estimated 2.6 million Indians in the UAE holds a few thousand Indian rupees, mostly in the denominations of 500 and 1,000 rupees that were demonetised in a surprise move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 night.
The scrapped notes can be deposited or exchanged at banks in India by December 30 and at offices of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by March 31, 2017. However, there is no arrangement for the expats to exchange their old currency notes outside India.
“The March 31 deadline is irrelevant to NRIs because it is practically impossible for them to reach a faraway RBI office while visiting India. Moreover, many expats go on vacation once in two years,” said Shyam Gehi, a resident of Mumbai, who has been living in Dubai for over 40 years.
He demanded an extension of the December 30 deadline indefinitely for NRIs and said they should be allowed to deposit at least up to Rs 25,000 in their bank accounts when they visit home.
Another expat demanded that the Indian government should extend the deadline by at least one more year for the NRIs.
If the deadline extension is not possible, then the government should authorise a money exchange centre in the UAE, otherwise the majority if Indians here will suffer, the expat said.
Anurag Kashyap, 40, another expat in Abu Dhabi, suggested that the Indian government authorise the Bank of Baroda, the only Indian bank with commercial operations in the UAE, to facilitate exchange of the invalid notes.
However, an official at the Bank of Baroda office in Dubai told Gulf News that there was no information about the bank accepting or exchanging invalid notes.
The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi said in a statement on Tuesday that it has taken up the issues raised by the NRI community in UAE with the Ministry of Finance as well as with the RBI.