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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 02/10/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Indian expatriates in the UAE have expressed their ire over, what they call, the "abrupt and unjustified" revision of the fees for Indian passport-related services, excluding processing charges.

The Ministry of External Affairs in India notified about the new rules governing the charges of passport-related services on Friday. The revised fee structure, which saw the fee for renewing a passport almost double, came into effect on Monday whereas the Indian Embassy sent the press release about it on Sunday evening.

Many expatriates and community associations called the steep increase in the charges introduced at an extremely short notice as a "big overnight blow" to the expatriate community.

The day one of implementing the new fee structure gave a tough time to many applicants who approached the BLS International's Indian Passport and Visa Service Centres in the UAE. The details of the new fee structure were uploaded on the website of the BLS centres on Monday. However, most applicants came to know about the fee hike only when they visited the centres. Labourers were the most affected since many of them did not carry more money than previously specified. "Some of us (applicants) questioned the sudden hike, without prior notice," an applicant at a BLS centre, who did not wish to be named, told Khaleej Times.

"Some people had to go back home and some workers who came in groups had to borrow from each other because they did not have enough money to pay the new fees," he said.

K. Kumar, convenor of Indian Community Welfare Committee, said he did not feel that there was a need for a hike at this juncture. "This should have been avoided, particularly in the Gulf countries where the majority of Indians are blue-collar workers."

The Indian Association Sharjah has sent a memorandum to the government demanding the withdrawal of the hike. The Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre, Dubai, and Sevanam, Ras Al Khaimah, have also demanded an immediate review of the government's decision.


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