Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Russian embassy feels India’s note ban pinch

The Narendra Modi government’s note ban has impacted diplomats and the functioning of embassies, but not everybody is complaining. Russian Ambassador to New Delhi Alexander Kadakin lodged a strong protest with South Block about the cash crunch that his mission has faced since November 9. In his letter to MEA, Russian envoy Kadakin has complained this his embassy’s normal functioning was getting affected with the “inadequate” amount of weekly limit of Rs 50,000. State Bank of India has told the embassy its cash withdrawal limit was Rs 50,000 a week. This, the bank said, was according to the Government of India directives with no exceptions unless otherwise advised by the Reserve Bank. A Russian embassy official said they were awaiting for a reply from the MEA and hoped that the issue was resolved quickly. The official warned that Russia would be forced to explore other options, including raising the issue in Moscow by summoning senior Indian embassy officials. Moscow could even retaliate by restricting cash withdrawals for Indian diplomats posted in Russia. The Russian embassy has 200 staffers. The MEA didn’t respond to reports about Russian complaint. The Dean of Diplomatic Corps has also raised the issue, as have Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Other Central Asian Republics like Kazakhstan have faced similar problems, while Pakistan’s embassy had even threatened to issue notices to Indian officials serving in Islamabad if they weren’t allowed to withdraw their salaries in American dollars. Several embassies, particularly those of developing countries, have faced cash problems after demonetisation. Embassies and high commissions of countries with vibrant business relations with India and significant staff strengths have found preferential treatment from private banks, with bank vans visiting the embassy premises to facilitate withdrawal of cash.



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