Skip to main content

Demonetization: Foreign missions seek removal of restriction on embassy accounts, it "violates" Vienna accord

Castellanos
By Our Representative
Faced with currency crunch following the Modi government's demonetization move, top New Delhi-based diplomats are learned to have conveyed it to the Government of India to urgently remove the limits on withdrawal from diplomatic bank accounts.

Well-informed sources of the foreign embassies in New Delhi are being quoted as saying that the restrictions are a “a violation of the Vienna Convention, which stipulates that a host country cannot put restrictions on the money maintained by embassies.”
The rumblings in foreign missions follow several complaints reportedly received by Dominican Republic ambassador Frank Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, who is dean of the diplomatic corps in New Delhi, about currency crunch faced by embassy staff, including diplomats, following Modi's demonetization move.
Says a report, while Castellanos has made a complaint, there are “no signs” of things getting “any better.” Castellanos, who represents the concerns of over 150 embassies and high commissions in New Delhi, “has been trying to find a solution to the complaints that have been pouring in from his colleagues”, the report adds.
Castellanos says, on the very first day of the restriction, November 9, he received calls from over 30 foreign envoys “with problems of their embassies”. Soon, complaints escalated to include problems faced by foreign nationals in India.
“We don’t want special privileges because everybody is being affected by this. But, at least the embassy account should have certain flexibility in the amount of money that can be withdrawn,” says Castellanos. “For an embassy operation, we need at least the equivalent of $2,000”.
While Castellanos has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the diplomats' and foreign nations' problems, the matter is currently stuck in the Finance Ministry, which has “formed an inter-ministerial panel which will discuss and give recommendations on the demand of foreign diplomatic missions to increase the limit on withdrawals from embassy bank accounts”, says the report.
Castellanos says, the New Delhi-based diplomats “neither oppose or support” demonetization, calling it an “internal issue of India”, even as adding, “We are appreciative of the measure of the fact that this will benefit foreign investment and will decrease trans border terrorism.”
According to Castellanos, the foreign nationals in India are particularly hit very hard, as those have changed money one or two weeks prior to the measure are being told by banks that they don’t have a bank account, or that they are foreigners and banks have to give priority to Indians.
In India for 11 years, Castellanos says, foreign tourists have been told that they can exchange money at the airport, but that is not an adequate solution. How can tourists change their money to new Indian currency when they are leaving and then go to their own country, he wonders.
Then, there are what are termed “medical tourists”, from countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, who cannot pay for the hotel bills. Worse, for some countries like Iran and Sudan, their people don’t have international credit cards due to sanctions.
As for diplomats, says Castellanos, their daily operations, from paying staff to putting fuel in the car to supporting a doctor’s visit for a diplomat’s family member falling ill, have been jeopardized. The problem particularly acute for the embassy staff, as they don’t have accounts.

Comments

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.