UK move on visa fee 'retrograde step,' says Sharma
UK move on visa fee 'retrograde step,' says SharmaNew Delhi, Jul 31 (KNN) India today said the Britain's move to charge 3,000 pound visa bond from visitors of certain countries including India, would be a 'retrograde measure' for bilateral trade with the UK, which should not be taken.
“As far as we are concerned, we have made it abundantly clear that after the successful visit, the second of his term by President David Cameron, and a clear assurance is that have been given a growing partnership that exist between UK and India, this would be a retrograde measure and negative step and should not be taken,” Commerce and industry Minister Anand Sharma said at a press conference here.
However, he said India's High Commissioner in UK and the foreign office have not received any confirmation of any such step having being put in place or a proposal cleared by the British cabinet.
“For the moment, I will go by the affirmations which were made and the assurances that have been given at the highest level of the British Government, unless and until anything to the contrary is confirmed for or approved,” Sharma added.
Sharma said this issue was on the agenda when he had met his UK counterpart Vince Cable in London.
"I was assured both by Cable as well as Oliver Letwin that no such proposal has come before the Cabinet for consideration and the government of UK will not take any measures considering the strategic and important partnership (with India)...when it comes to movement of professionals, tourists,” he said.
He further said that, the government of UK will not take any measures considering the strategic and important partnership including the economic dimension both from investment and ….technology collaboration which will be barrier when it comes to the movement of the officials, movement of tourists.
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commissioner in UK and the Foreign Office have not received any confirmation of any such step having been put in place or a proposal cleared by the British Cabinet.
Reacting to this proposal, FICCI has expressed concern over UK government's proposal to charge a hefty visa bond of 3000 pounds (Rs 2,70,000) from visitors of certain 'high risk countries' such as India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana which evoked criticism among the large Indian community.
The move is likely to hit the interests of not only tourists but also the small tour operators.
“It is indeed a matter of concern if the UK Government actualises its plans to seek Pound 3000 (INR 3 lakhs approx) refundable bonds from Indians applying for UK visas in the immediate future,” FICCI said in a release today.
“British Government is yet to define the "high-risk" visitor’s category which would be asked to furnish such bonds. It is hoped that the category won’t include business representatives,” the release added.
Moreover, grouping India which has emerged as the fourth largest investor in UK (as per the recent figures released by UK government) with countries like Ghana Uganda Pakistan Bangladesh is a matter of concern and it could certainly impact the Indian industry investment plans for the UK, it said.
In June 2013, a high powered business delegation from FICCI was in UK and was assured by the UK government that the proposed move will not impact business visitors from India. We hope that as more details come by, the apprehensions of the business community will be considered.
The proposal had raised concerns amongst tour operators in India that the proposal would burden outbound tourists.
Further, there would always be a lurking fear that the cash deposit may not be returned owing to some technical glitch. (KNN/SD)