India starts levying service tax on remittance fees

India has begun to levy a service tax on fees or commissions charged by banks and financial institutions for facilitating remittances from abroad. This is expected to slightly increase the cost of remittances to India, which will mainly affect the majority of low-income NRIs in Gulf countries, who remit money monthly to their dependants back home. One financial consultant in India stated that although the tax is a small amount, it is unjustified as NRIs deserve incentives for bringing foreign exchange into India. He feels that unfortunately NRIs are not given cash incentives as are doled out to rich exporters of goods and services. It has been repeatedly stated that NRI remittances were the mainstay that kept India afloat when the country was going through a foreign exchange reserve crisis, and for many years NRI remittances were higher than Foreign Direct Investments in India.