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Vikas Swarup. Photo: Hindustan Times
Vikas Swarup. Photo: Hindustan Times

Govt panel to address queries of diplomats, NRIs, money changers on demonetisation

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the panel will be headed by a finance ministry official

The government has formed an interministerial committee to answer questions put up by foreign missions in New Delhi, Indian expatriates, money changers abroad as well as foreigners travelling to India about demonetisation of high-value currency notes.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the ministry had received three or four types of queries on the issue of demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November to crack down on tax evaders.

The first set of queries concerns “diplomats who are based in Delhi," Swarup said, adding, “some of them have told us that diplomatic missions require higher level of funds and the existing limits will not be sufficient for them, if those can be increased for diplomatic missions."

“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. So, that is the first set of issues that has been brought to our notice by the resident diplomats. The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps has had a meeting with us and has brought these to our attention," Swarup said.

The second set of questions pertained to non-resident Indians in possession of permissible amounts of Indian currency who would not be travelling to India immediately to get them changed, Swarup said.

“The third set of issues has been raised by money changers’ associations abroad. This is quite interesting because we don’t have full convertibility. But it shows the strength of the Indian rupee, that we have money changers’ associations abroad that are ready to dispense Indian rupees. So they have asked us the same question: what do they do with the stacks they have. How do they convert those," Swarup said.

“And, finally you have the cases of foreign visitors, tourists, particularly those coming for medical tourism, asking us that we have specific requirements, and we need to have higher thresholds," he added.

To answer these and allied queries, an inter-ministerial panel headed by an additional secretary in the finance ministry had been set up, Swarup said. “We await their guidance, advice and recommendation which can be shared with those approached us," he said.

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