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Russian Diplomat slams India on Demonetisation, says hardly enough to ‘pay for decent meal’

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Russia has strongly protested with India on cash shortage affecting the working of its mission after demonetisation, and wants a quick resolution of the issue, failing which it may explore other options including summoning Indian diplomat in Moscow.

Russian Government sources told that Ambassador Alexander Kadakin is waiting for a reply to his letter to the Ministry of External Affairs on December 2. Moscow, say sources, may summon the Indian envoy this week to protest against the Rs. 50,000 a week limit on withdrawals since the notes ban on November 8.

In his letter, dated December 2, Alexander said that the ‘restrictions on withdrawal of cash had severely affected the New Delhi Embassy’s functioning as the withdrawal limit was not even enough to pay for a decent dinner in a restaurant’.

“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 letter reads.

“SBI informed the Embassy that the cash withdrawal limit available to the Embassy is now Rs 50,000 per week under the government of India directives with no exceptions unless otherwise advised by the RBI. Such an amount is totally inadequate as regards the embassy’s salary and operational expenditure requirements,” he wrote.

The letter further mentioned that the Russian embassy has staff strength of 200 (excluding family members) and with the new withdrawal limit the cash at hand for one person comes to Rs. 250 a week.

The envoy also urged the MEA to intervene into the matter and exempt Embassy staff from the withdrawal limit.

Earlier, the Dean of Diplomatic Corps had also raised the issue, complaining about the problems faced by the missions. It is also understood that some other countries like Ukraine and Kazakhstan have also protested to the ministry.

After the demonetisation last month, MEA had said it has approached Department of Economic Affairs over three or four types of requests including those related to maintaining sufficient flow of funds to diplomatic missions following the demonetization and was awaiting a decision from it.

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