The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has written to the Home Minister, P. Chidambaram for an immediate review of the restrictive visa regime which was spirit of promotion of economic cooperation and people to people contact among the SAARC member countries.
The Chamber has stated that the new SAARC visa exemption sticker (SVES) scheme was highly restrictive and needs to be rationalised and liberalised without any delay. "The new policy does not truly reflect the aspiration of the Heads of the States of the governments of SAARC nations, who, almost in all SAARC summits, have been emphasising promotion of trade,’’ SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Vikramjit Singh Sahaney has stated in a letter to Mr. Chidambaram. He has also written to Ahmed Saleem, secretary general, SAARC Secretariat at Kathmandu.
Mr. Sahaney said it was unfortunate that the Home Ministry had reduced the duration of the SVES from one-year to three months for businessmen except for the office bearers of the main chambers of commerce and industry. ``We urge Mr. Chidambaram to enhance the visa duration back to one-year and also increase the quota of such visas from 100 to 500. This is important to promote economic cooperation and trade in the region especially between India and Pakistan when things are looking up,’’ he remarked.
Similarly, he said the category 1 of Group B (presidents of national chambers of commerce and industry as well as members of the executive committee of the national federation of chambers of commerce and industry) in category A. The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry also demanded that India and Pakistan should work towards removing the moratorium from the entry and exit points and also people above the age of 70 years should be exempted from police reporting. ``the private sector has to bear the brunt of the discriminatory treatment of SVES as it has been expelled from category A and relegated to category B in the newly implemented visa scheme. We demand immediate restoration to category A and the national chambers could be the nodal agencies for endorsing visa for respected businessmen from the SAARC members countries,’’ he remarked.