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E-banking addresses India currency concerns.

Abu Dhabi: Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) can easily comply with the rules prohibiting them from carrying Indian currency to India by making use of modern electronic banking facilities, a senior Indian official told Gulf News yesterday.

The rules, which have been in existence for many years, are meant to prevent many illegal activities that pose security and economic implications, S.A. S Navaz, Deputy Commissioner of Indian Customs and Central Excise, said over phone from Kochi, India.

The currency regulations prevent smuggling of black money (money earned through illegal activity, so not taxed) out of India so that it can be sent back as legitimate funds from abroad, Navaz said.

"That's why even Indian citizens coming back from a visit abroad [not NRIs] and foreign visitors are allowed to carry a maximum of 7,500 rupees [Dh501] only to India. And they are allowed to carry Indian currency in 100 rupees denomination only; because higher denominations like 500 rupees may encourage currency smuggling," he said.

Asked about reasons behind the restrictions on NRIs, Navaz said: "Indian Customs have framed the baggage rules based on Reserve Bank of India regulations on Indian currency and we simply implement it; we don't know the exact reasons and principles behind them."

There was always the possibility that NRIs could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous elements to bring back Indian currency smuggled out of India, which in turn could be used for illegal and anti-national activities like terrorism, the official said. Recent reports of counterfeit Indian currency being brought into the country from abroad was another instance of such concerns proving true, he said.

By utilising modern electronic banking facilities, NRIs can easily comply with the rules and uphold the national interest, Navaz said. There are ATMs facilitating currency conversion at some Indian airports.

Any person can bring foreign exchange without any limit to India from abroad. However, declaration of foreign exchange/currency is required to be made in the prescribed Currency Declaration Form if the total value of currency notes exceeds $5,000 (Dh18,360) or equivalent, or $10,000 or equivalent including other instruments like cheque, draft etc.

NRIs expressed mixed feelings about the rules on the Gulf News website yesterday. One reader called on everyone to follow the rules considering the possibility of illegal activities.

Others highlighted the inconvenience caused by the rules. "Indian government should allow NRIs to carry at least 2,000-3,000 rupees for initial expenses. I request the Indian government to change the rule," said Ravi, a Dubai resident.

"The Indian authorities expect us to convert the foreign currency at the airports [at a very high rate]! This is absurd!" said Nevin, an Abu Dhabi resident.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 7, 2013
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