Nepalis may not be able to exchange banned IC


Jul 20, 2017-Nepalis holding banned Indian banknotes of IRs500 and IRs1,000 denominations may not be able to exchange them for legal tender as India remains silent on the issue, Nepal Embassy officials in New Delhi said. 

Embassy officials in the Indian capital said no positive sign about India giving a window to exchange or deposit old notes had emerged so far.

Last November, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that IRs500 and IRs1,000 notes would be pulled out of circulation. The Indian government issued a deadline of December 30 to exchange the banned notes which was subsequently extended till March.

The move has largely affected businessmen and common people in Nepal who frequently travel to India for various purposes. During high-level meetings and official talks, Nepal has repeatedly requested the Indian government to give a certain period of time to Nepali citizens to deposit the old notes.

“During every meeting, India says it is positive about extending exchange facility to Nepali citizens, but there is no substantial progress,” said officials. Recently, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadur Mahara raised the issue with Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj during his recent visit to Delhi.

Nepal Rastra Bank and the Reserve Bank of India have held several rounds of talks on the subject. Previously, Nepal had also submitted a modality on exchanging the demonetised notes.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitly had also responded positively to Nepal’s request to arrange exchange facility for Nepalis during his visit to Kathmandu a few months ago.

Meanwhile, Bhutan has also been demanding that exchange facility be arranged for its citizens. “The case of Bhutan is different from ours. Soon after Indian demonetised the banknotes, the Bhutan government collected them from its citizens. This has made it easier for Bhutanese citizens to get exchange facility. In our case, it is challenging,” said officials. 

There are also demands in India that a small window to exchange the banned notes be provided to people who missed the deadline. However, the Indian government has expressed reluctance to provide such a concession, which means chances of Nepalis getting exchange facility are slim.

Indian Chief Justice JS Khekar has also asked the Modi government to consider giving one last window to people who have been stuck with old notes for genuine reasons.

The Indian government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that one last opportunity to deposit the 500- and 1,000-rupee notes that were banned in November would defeat the whole point of demonetisation. 

The Indian government told the court that gross misuse or abuse of previous extensions or exceptions allowed old notes to be used to book railway tickets or at petrol pumps.

“Allowing a new opportunity to deposit banned notes would result in a number of benami transactions and make it difficult for departments to distinguish genuine cases from bogus ones,” the Indian government said.

Published: 20-07-2017 08:44

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