UK move to impose 3,000 pound visa fee a retrograde step, says Anand Sharma

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AnandNEW DELHI, July 31;Stating that India and Britain were aiming for a growing partnership in all spheres, Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma on Wednesday termed as “retrograde step” the move by the UK Government to take 3,000 pound bond for issuing visa bond for visitors of certain countries including India sought a halt to this move.

Talking to newsmen in New Delhi, Mr. Sharma said there were clear assurances from Prime Minister, David Cameron and his Cabinet colleagues, some of whom he met during his visit to London last month, that no such step was in the offing and in fact both nations should work towards enhancing the strategic partnership. “India’s High Commissioner in Britain and the foreign office have not received any confirmation of any such step having being put in place or a proposal cleared by the David Cameron Cabinet. As far as we are concerned, we have made it abundantly clear that after the successful visit of Mr. Cameron earlier this year, the clear assurances that have been given and the growing partnership that exists between India and the UK, this would be a retrograde measure and negative step and should not be taken,’’ he remarked.

Britain has announced plans to introduce a scheme of demanding a whopping 3,000 pounds visa bond from visitors from certain countries, including India.

Mr. Sharma said this issue was taken up vociferously by him when he was in London with his British counterpart Vince Cable. “I was assured both by Mr. Cable as well as another Minister, Oliver Letwin that no such proposal has come before the Cabinet for consideration and the UK Government will not take any measures considering the strategic and important partnership with India when it comes to movement of professionals and tourists,’’ he added.

At the moment we will go by the affirmations which were made and assurances that have been given at the highest level of British government, unless and until anything to the contrary is confirmed or approved.

Referring to the issue of decline in exports and efforts to give it a big push, Mr. Sharma announced the government has decided to raise the rate of interest on subsidy scheme for exporters to 3 per cent and widen the coverage of the scheme to cover more sectors. “The rate of interest subvention from Thursday would be enhanced to 3 per cent from the present 2 per cent to deepen the benefit,’’ he said.

“The government is making available the required resources to clear all claims of the exporters and the provisions are being made to ensure that claims of all the exporters are settled forthwith,’’ he said. In addition to this, the government was also considering raising plan allocation for Market Access Initiative (MAI), Market Development Assistance and Central Assistance to States for Developing Export Infrastructure and other Allied Activities (ASIDE) Scheme. A meeting of the Board of Trade (BoT) had been convened on August 27 to consider more steps to give a boost to exports.

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