While the government has upped diplomatic initiative with the Indian government to provide exchange service for Nepalis holding demonetized Indian currency, there has not been any progress in this direction so far. Sagar Ghimire of Republica talked to Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Tuesday to know what the government is doing to resolve the issue. Excerpts:
People are worried that the 1,000 and 500 Indian rupee bills in their possession are becoming worthless papers. What is the progress so far to address the problem?
I have held talks on the issue with the Indian finance minister, the Indian ambassador to Nepal and our ambassador to India. As the scrapping of Indian banknotes of 500 and 1,000 denominations will also impact Nepal, I have taken initiative consciously in the same way the Indian government deals with its citizens. The Indian finance minister told me that he has understood our problem and assured us to resolve the issue.
How can you assuage the fear of the Indian side that the ill-gotten cash would return to India?
We would be strict with black money. Our government will also keep vigilance over such wealth. India's concern is also our concern. We have already talked about this issue with the Prime Minister, Chief Secretary, local administrations and other concerned authorities. There will not be any compromise on black money.
What is our Plan B if India refuses to provide exchange facility?
We will think about that at that time. I do not think that India will reject our request. Those, who have legally earned Indian currency, need not worry. Their savings will be safe. Many Nepalis come from India. Indians also come to Nepal. We are concerned with their money. But we do not sympathize with those who are holding ill-gotten wealth. We have to curb such money.
Can people be fully assured that their Indian currencies will be exchanged?
That problem must be addressed. We will also provide solution for such money like the way the Indian government has given to its people. We will fight for a solution.