KARACHI: The banks have failed to meet the surging demand for cash amid higher inflows of foreign exchange in Ramazan.

It was also noted that dozens of automated teller machines (ATMs) were out of cash during the last two days as banks were not filling them up with the required cash.

Currency dealers said the supply of cash from banks is either delayed or not provided when required. Banking customers were found annoyed due to the unavailability of cash.

“The currency inflows in Ramazan are higher and we need higher cash to provide our customers but we have to make hard efforts to arrange cash,” said Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan General Secretary Zafar Paracha, adding that in the last days of the holy month, the demand for foreign currency or dollars generally reduces since outflows from the country come down, people don’t go out at this time while imports are also used to go slow.”

Rupee recovers against dollar

So far the inflows were normal like previous Ramazan which may be 15 to 20 per cent higher due to inflows of Zakat and other charities, he remarked.

Hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis usually return to Pakistan to celebrate Eid with their families. These Pakistanis bring foreign currencies with them to get cash by exchanging in the currency market as a result the demand for local currency increases.

“But why a bank does not provide cash to its customer sitting with a cheque of just Rs50,000,” asked a customer of a local bank. The cashier told the said account holder that the bank was short of cash and that he should come after two hours.

Banks are not supplying cash as required in their branches. It looks like the banks are making all efforts to hold the cash for maximum time and earn profit out of this cash. This attitude has become normal and most of the banks are involved in this practice for several months.

The banks can earn 22pc by investing in government papers for three months and the government is willing to borrow as much as possible. It has already borrowed over Rs2 trillion from banks during the first 9 months of the current fiscal year.

Currency dealers claimed the open market is surplus with the foreign exchange and millions are being deposited in the banks.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported the dollar lost 81 paise to close at Rs283.90 from Rs284.71 the previous day.

However, the exchange companies quoted the dollar rate in the interbank market at Rs286 while the open market dollar rate was Rs288.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2023

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