इंडियन आवाज़     01 Dec 2023 12:20:25      انڈین آواز

NRIs can vote, but to pay more for stay

But they will have to spend a little more on their visit to India. The recent Union Budget has raised the air travel tax and they have to pay more for coming to India and flying back and for air travel within India. Their treatment in well equipped private hospitals and their stay in luxury hotels and food at good restaurants will be costlier due to hikes in service tax.

“Heart surgery will be costlier by at least Rs 15,000,” said a doctor in the Apollo Hospital.  The marginal increase in the income tax threshold from Rs.160,000 to Rs.180,000 and concessions given to senior citizens and very senior citizen may be relief which can be short-lived due to rising prices.

However, the Budget 2011-12 has augmented avenues for investments by NRIs in mutual funds, stock market, housing and infrastructure projects.

Polls are round the corner in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The NRIs haling from these states will have to come to India to cast their votes. They will have to be physically present in their place of origin to exercise their franchise as per the guideline recently issued by the Election Commission of India.

These guidelines for enrolment of names of NRIs in the electoral rolls were issued by the ECI after holding several rounds of discussions with the Ministries of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs. The Parliament had passed an Amendment to the Representation of People Act in 2010 allowing NRIs to cast their franchise in the country.

Earleir an NRI’s name used to be deleted from the voters’ list if he or she stays outside the country for over six months at a stretch. Now with the new law an NRI cast his or her vote in the polls.

Indians living abroad, who have not acquired the citizenship of any other country, can make an application in Form 6A directly to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of the constituency within which the place of residence of the applicant as mentioned his or her passport falls.

An NRI can go to an ERO in person or send by post his application to the ERO concerned. A postal application must be accompanied by copies of the passport and some other documents duly attested by an officer of the Indian Mission in the country concerned.
After enrolment, an NRI will be able to cast his vote in an election in the constituency, in person, at the polling station where he is registered as an overseas elector.

“The decision of the ERO on application of an overseas voter will be communicated to the applicant by post on his address in the foreign country stated by him in the application and also by SMS on the mobile number given by him. The eligible NRIs will be able to vote in the upcoming Assembly polls in five States,” said an Election Commission official.

However some NRIs are not happy at the government giving NRIs the right to vote. They say this will not make much a difference.  The President of International Traders (ME) Ltd, UAE, Ram Buxani said “we want reservation of four seats in the Lok Sabha for NRIs – one seat for Gulf NRIs, one seat for European NRIs, one seat for American NRIs and one seat for South-East Asian NRIs. If this is done we can raise our voice in the Indian Parliament.”

But Investment Avenue is the one which is most prospective to the NRIs. According to top financial analysts the highest returns for NRIs can come from the investment in mutual funds (MFs) as compared to investing in fixed deposits or in the stock market. The initial paperwork for getting a Permanent Account Number ( PAN) Card and getting Know Your Customer (KYC) takes a lot of time and effort and the budget has not addressed this problem, but the high returns make it worthwhile. While investment in MFs can yield quicker results than that in infrastructure bonds where the locking period is more.


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