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Demonetisation anniversary: Money exchanges, NRIs stuck with billions in banned notes, claims Dubai-based businessman

As analyses rain down upon us over the fallout from the demonetisation exercise a unique take comes from well-known businessman and Dubai-based NRI spokesperson Ram Buxani. Commenting on the anniversary he says that one of the unsolved mysteries with regard to the collection of currency notes that have been banned is the casual indifference towards the huge sums of money lying with official money exchanges all across the globe.

Buxani has written a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raising the issue.

His own organisation has over half a million rupees in Rs 1000 and Rs 500 denominations and a year later no one seems interested in collecting this money.

A file photo of Rs 1,000 notes. Reuters

A file photo of Rs 1,000 notes. Reuters

Unlike Indians at home who were given an opportunity and a deadline to deposit their monies, foreign based Indians could only fly in to one of five cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur) and queue outside the RBI branches.

Buxani says discomfort to the huge Kerala and Andhra communities abroad were not even considered.

Many thousands of hardworking blue collars never even bothered to meet the 30 June 2017 deadline seeing as how it would be more expensive to travel home and then spend time in an alien city and look for accommodation and food while waiting for their turn.

If that was a travesty what is worse is that legitimate money exchange branches holding billions in banned denominations legally and through no fault of their own are still sitting on these obsolete funds and have no way of getting rid of them.

Speaking to Firstpost, Buxani said several petitions have been forwarded to the government agencies in New Delhi but they do not even reply.

The letter that he sent to Jailtey is selfexplanatory but even though months have passed there is no comeback, he says.

“There seems to be scant interest in this matter. Think of it, around the world, a diaspora of 34 million people, most of them remitting and contributing to the annual Rs 70 billion every year and bear in mind this figure could be Rs 100 billion. Why is it of no importance to respond?”

What happens. You pull the rug overnight and every airport in the world, every legal licensed money changer from London to Lagos, Dhaka to Dublin, every main street of all the major cities, has Indian currency and now it is mere paper. And largely uncollected even though a year has passed.

Fine but Buxani says what is perplexing is why no one wants to bring it home and instead just leave it scattered around the world.

Every such rupee is white money. This is not hoarded black money, it is a legal service and if any money should be exchanged (literally) it should be such Indian currency abroad.

The BJP obviously believes that these billions don’t count and is celebrating Wednesday as anti-black money day. As a counter all the Opposition parties are going to observe it as a black day and the sad part is that issues that are still unresolved will be lost in the din and stay unresolved.

“That,” says Buxani “Is where we go wrong...the intent is not matched by the action.”

An email sent to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and a few state-run banks on Monday asking whether there was any facility given to currency exchanges abroad to exchange old demonetised notes remained unanswered till the time of filing this story.

Read the entire text of the letter below:


Published Date: Nov 08, 2017 15:10 PM | Updated Date: Nov 08, 2017 15:45 PM

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