New Delhi: The limited period window for exchange of junked Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes by Indians who were abroad ended on Friday with many failing to do so because of limited counters and lack of procedural awareness.
However, additional time period of three months is available to non-resident Indians (NRIs) with a rider of exchange of Rs25,000 per individual. The exchange window for NRIs will close on 30 June.
Long serpentine queues of people were seen outside five RBI offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Nagpur—the designated offices for exchange of scrapped notes—on Friday.
People had to travel long distances due to limitation of designated branches to deposit scrapped currency notes. In many cases, people had to wait for 6-7 hours and in some cases it took days for exchange due to lack of required documents.
Earlier this week, minister of state for finance Arjun Ram Meghwal had informed the Rajya Sabha that ineligible persons queueing up at the Reserve Bank of India were responsible for long queues. The minister said RBI had posted detailed instructions on its website clearly showing the eligibility parameters and other necessary documents required to be tendered for exchange of old notes.
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“Long queues are formed in Mumbai and Delhi only as a number of persons from the neighbouring states are turning up here. Several staff members have been engaged to attend to the large number of people at the counters," Meghwal had said.
After scrapping old notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 on 8 November, the government had permitted people to deposit the same in banks up to 30 December, 2016. Meghwal stated that while there was no monetary limit for exchange of currency notes for residents who were abroad during the demonetisation period, there was a cap for NRIs as per FEMA regulations.
NRIs coming to India are required to come through Red Channel disclosing to the Customs authorities at the airport the amount of now-defunct notes and secure a certificate to be tendered at the RBI at the time of exchange.
The exchange facility till June is subject to the Foreign Exchange Management (Export and Import of Currency) Regulations, 2015. As per these regulations, bringing back such currency into the country is restricted to Rs25,000 per person.
The government had declared Rs500 and Rs1,000 denomination bank notes as illegal tender from 8 November, 2016. Subsequently, the President approved the promulgation of the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance) Ordinance, 2016 on 30 December.
The ordinance imposes penal liabilities on the holders of scrapped notes after the specified date. It makes holding, transfer and receiving of the demonetised notes a criminal offence, punishable with a fine of Rs10,000 or five times the cash held whichever is higher.