Demonetisation: Embassies Cash-Strapped, No Money Even After 4 Weeks
NEW DELHI: As the ordinary person remains cash strapped and hard pressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial demonetisation decision, the foreign missions in India are also facing considerable difficulty with several Ambassadors having written to the Ministry of External Affairs to intervene and ensure that the necessary sum of money to run the embassies is released.
Pakistan that had seen the curb on its own money as personal, now finds that it is one of many missions who have started approaching the Indian Foreign office with demands for urgent action. The Economic Times quoted from a letter by the Russian envoy to MEA where he has reportedly said that with ‘so little cash, you can’t even have a decent dinner, forget running regular diplomatic business.’
Pakistan has already been in what sections of the media described as a “spat” with the Indian Foreign office saying it did not enough money to pay the salaries of the staff. The same has been reported from most missions, particularly the smaller ones, that are facing what a former diplomat said was an ‘emergency’ situation.
In fact within a week of PM Modi’s announcement, the missions had started approaching MEA on the money issue. This was acknowedged by spokesperson Vikas Swarup at the time when he told reporters, “The first issue concerns diplomats who are based in Delhi. Some of them have told us that diplomatic missions require a higher level of funds and the existing limits will not be sufficient for them, andif those can be increased for diplomatic missions.”
Tdean of the Diplomatic Corps met with MEA officials to communicate the concerns of over 150 embassies. And a committee was appointed under an Additional Secretary to deal with the problems, that included the collection and exhange of the demonetised currency that had been collected by several missions in visa fees.
That the issue has not been resolved a month later is clear from the ctonuung responses of the embassies. ET quoted the letter written by Russian ambassador Alexander Kadakin to MRA as recently as December 2 where he said, “Please just imagine if we in Moscow mirror this order of SBI (State Bank of India) when 50,000 roubles will not be enough to pay for a decent dinner in a restaurant, not to mention functioning of such a big embassy as ours in New Delhi or India’s in Moscow.” The embassies have also been subjected to the Rs 50,000 per week cash withdrawals as there is no cash with 86 per cent having been demonetised in one stroke.
Meanwhile the queues outside the banks continue amidst reports of complete crash in prices of vegetables, as the farmers have been unable to transport this perishable commodity with trucks facing acute shortage of cash. In Punjab entire sabzi mandis are reported by the local media to have collapsed, as vegetable growers are being compelled to almost give the vegetables out for free, at a fraction of the price, to prevent a complete loss. The vegetables have piled up as there is no transport to ferry these to the neighbouring states.