[Back home, large number of people can be seen outside Dena Bank Malegaon to exhchange and deposit now demonitized Rs 500/1000 currency notes. (ummid.com Photo)]
Dammam (Saudi Arabia): Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shocking decision on Tuesday to demonitize large denomination bank notes from circulation to fight corruption, tax evasion and black money has affected many Non Resident Indians (NRIs), as money changers stopped accepting Indian currencies in any denominations.
In Dammam, Al-Khobar, Riyadh and Jeddah - Sauid cities with a large number of NRIs, the Indian rupee found no takers.
Indian expats started getting panicky after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced immediate demonitization of currency notes of 1,000 and 500 denominations in what he described as his first move to curb black money and put a stop to parallel economy.
Mohammed Arif, a construction worker in Dammam, lost his two months’ salary which he had converted to Indian Rupees just three weeks ago when the Indian currency hit a low, according to Saudi Gazette.
“I am ruined I have around Rs75,000, and all in 1,000 denomination. I am trying to convince the money exchanger to take the rupees back and give me Saudi Riyals. I have valid receipt. But the exchanger has refused", the paper quoted him as saying.
Rajbeer Singh, of Jalandhar in Punjab, brought Rs100,000 from India when he visited India. “Instead of leaving it with relatives, I decided to carry it with me to use it when I return to India again. But now it is just waste paper.”
When told that all is not lost and he can change it in India at any bank before Dec. 30, Rajbeer said his vacation was not due until 2018.
What these Indians do not realize that carrying Indian currency outside India is a crime and a person can be subjected to imprisonment and fine.
“These measures will not affect big business houses like the Tatas, Ambanis, Adnanis etc. as they don’t keep their money in India.
“They conduct business and survive on bank loans,” said Ali Abbas, a software engineer in Al-Khobar.
The hard hit will be the middle class and small and medium business groups, he said.
The coming days will be too confusing and hard for Indians as banks will be closed and the government has put a cap on ATM withdrawals.
Economists believe that the measure will cost a huge loss to national exchequer.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted a forex trader at Hong Kong-based money-changing chain Singapore Exchange Co as saying that his firm was left with 10 million Indian rupees ($150,000) in cash.
“We don’t know what to do, we are frantically trying to find buyers and sell at any cost. But there are no takers yet,” said one of the clerks, who gave his name only as Yunus.
The clerk said he had been inundated with phone calls since early on Wednesday from nervous customers left holding stashes of Indian bank notes.
It was a similar story in Singapore, another Asian financial center with a sizeable Indian community, with people holding rupees and unable to exchange them into other currencies, creating a bit of panic in the South East Asian nation.