US India Global Review 2018

43 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018 The other countries who sent more than a billion dollars of remittances to India are: Qatar ($3 billion plus), United Kingdom ($3 billion plus), Oman ($2 billion plus), Nepal ($2 billion plus), Canada ($2 billion plus), Australia ($1.7 plus billion), Bahrain ($1.2 plus billion), and Sri Lanka ($1.1 plus billion). Singapore was not too far away with $806,000,000. Despite this huge outflow from their adopted country to their birth nation, NRIs are disappointed with India’s 2018 budget, which did not address some demands, especial- ly from Indians living in the Gulf nations. Gulf News reported that NRIs had expected a custom duty exemption for gold ornaments for up to 50 grams for males and 100 grams for females. The community also wanted a rationalization of 10 per cent import duty on gold. All this, apart from long-standing demands of a pension plan, and a reduction of GST on property transaction from 12 per cent to 5 per cent, went unheard by finance minister Arun Jaitley. “From an NRI perspective, the budget does not have anything to write home about. We expected certain tax reforms relating to investments in India, but the busi- ness community will be disap- pointed with the oversight,” Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director, Lulu Exchange Holdings and Twenty 14 Holdings told Gulf News. Tax on Remittances The Modi government has also maintained the 2014 tax rule for NRIs. The government levies a 12.36 per cent service tax on fees or commission paid by agents for facilitating remittances, thereby making it a little more expensive for expats to send money back home. Most of the money that is sent home by the NRIs either gets invested in property, stocks, bonds or gold. However, companies in the money exchange and transfer business are gung ho about India. Recently, Western Union, the wire payments company, announced the launch of its Western Union Technology Engineering Centre, a new tech- nology center that is located in Pune, Maharashtra. The technolo- gy center, at 125,000 square feet, will serve as Western Union’s innovation and engineering hub in the area and will employ 1,000 skilled workers. The company said remittances are important to India’s economy. “On the anniversary of 25 years of our service in India, this is a fit- ting start to a new chapter. We are extremely proud to have connect- ed Indian diaspora from nearly every country in the world by enabling money movement to their families and loved ones,” said Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of Western Union, in a statement. Photo: Dreamstime Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor | Parikh Worldwide Media, based in New York. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com

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