With time running-out to exchange demonetised currency notes, the over 2.6 million-strong Indian community in the UAE have demanded an extension of the deadline for NRIs, citing their inability in travelling to India to exchange scrapped notes in such a short time. Expressing concern that the Indian government has not announced any reprieve for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), the community members said that authorities should either extend the December 30 deadline to exchange old notes or provide a window here in the UAE to exchange the invalid notes, the Gulf News reported.
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Most of the over 2.6 million Indians in the UAE hold a few thousand Indian rupees, mostly in denominations of 500 and 1,000 that were demonetised in a surprise move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8. The old notes can be deposited or exchanged at banks by December 30 and at offices of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by March 31, 2017. However, there is no venue or arrangement outside India, including in the UAE, for this purpose.
“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, especially workers, go on vacation once in two years,” said Shyam Gehi, 67, a retired professional, who has been living in Dubai for more than 40 years.
“NRIs should be allowed to deposit at least up to Rs 25,000 in their bank accounts in India as and when they visit home,” said Gehi, who is from Mumbai. He also demanded that the Indian government make arrangements in the UAE to exchange invalid notes. Bency Tharakan, 43, a finance professional in Abu Dhabi, demanded that the government extend the December 31 deadline by at least one more year for NRIs.
If the deadline extension is not possible, the government should authorise a money exchange centre in the UAE to exchange notes, Tharakan was quoted as saying by the paper. Anurag Kashyap, 40, a marketing professional in Abu Dhabi, suggested India authorise the Bank of Baroda, the only Indian bank with commercial operations in the UAE, to facilitate exchange of the invalid notes.
“That is the possible solution for NRIs here who are not travelling soon,” he said. An official at the Bank of Baroda office in Dubai told the paper that there was no information about the bank accepting or exchanging invalid notes. The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said in a statement: “We have taken up the issues raised by the NRI community in UAE with the Ministry of Finance as well as with the RBI.”