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The Jaigaon Merchant Association assures that it will look into the issue and report it to the district administration if it continues

INR: Despite exchange counters being opened to solve the disparity between the Indian rupee and ngultrum, illegal buying and selling of rupees in the border town of Jaigaon still thrives.

There are a handful of small shops that exchange the two currencies illegally and charging between one to two percent of the amount exchanged.

Labeling the situation as “a minor one,” the Jaigaon Merchant Association (JMA) general secretary RS Gupta said the problem would be looked into.

“This trend is there because these few people are taking advantage of urgency,” he said.

RS Gupta explained there were dealers from Siliguri who come for collection in Jaigaon. With limited time, they have to buy rupees, giving way to illegal exchange.

However, if such practice continues, the association has decided to report it to the district administration for action.

“For now, we have asked all the businessmen in Jaigaon to cooperate and accept ngultrum,” RS Gupta said.

The JMA general secretary, meanwhile, told Kuensel that the rupee-ngultrum discrepancy would be solved by this month.

Jaigaon Motor Dealer Welfare Association (JMDWA) joint secretary, Tapash Mukherjee also said their association has asked member traders to accept ngultrums. Pointing out that the disparity problem is almost solved, he added JMDWA is constantly focused on occurrences of illegal exchanges.

Although traders from across the border were allowed to acquire demand drafts for rupee in Bhutanese banks in Phuentsholing, there are however concerns of duplication, after it was announced that a person from across the border could avail Rs 50,000 in cash a month.

“In the wake of fake voter cards immigration office had to deal with, duplication is possible in this matter,” the business representative in Phuentsholing, Phuntsho Wangdi said. “There is opportunity for this.”

Welcoming the initiative from the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) and finance ministry, the business representative, on the other hand, said the business group in Phuentsholing were not consulted while traders from Jaigaon were consulted.

Meanwhile, RMA monitors the currency exchange counters. Identification numbers are recorded in the system and repeated exchanges are monitored.

A hotelier in Phuentsholing, Pema also said duplication could be a problem in the future.

“Anybody can avail,” the hotelier said, pointing out that duplication of voter cards and other cards was not a problem in the border towns these days. “There must be a system to check the authenticity of the documents.”

Local businessmen are also worried their businesses may suffer less profits with more Bhutanese rushing to Jaigaon as the rupee problem is now solved. Businesses in Phuentsholing had drastically improved with traders in Jaigaon asking for rupees.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing

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