Crackdown restores confidence in rupee

Published September 20, 2023
Some currency dealers believe the ongoing action has also checked smuggling of dollars to Afghanistan and Iran.—AFP/file
Some currency dealers believe the ongoing action has also checked smuggling of dollars to Afghanistan and Iran.—AFP/file

KARACHI: The crackdown against illegal currency dealers has kept the exchange rate under control so far as the dollar lost in both the open and interbank markets.

The State Bank reported the closing price of dollar as Rs294.90, noting a depreciation of Rs1.05. The dollar was priced as Rs295.95 a day earlier.

Since the peak of Rs307, the dollar has lost Rs12 in the inter-bank market while the day-to-day decline in the dollar prices is boosting confidence in the local currency.

The confidence further improved with the steep fall in dollar rates in the open market since the launch of a crackdown on illegal currency trade. The dollar further fell by Re1 in the open market, trading at Rs296.

The difference of rate is just above Re1 which is highly comfortable for the government. Under the IMF’s Standby Arrangement, the differential should be less than 1.25 per cent.

However, two fears haunt the currency market these days — how long this crackdown will continue and how long this exchange rate will be sustainable.

Sources in the banking industry said the inflow of remittances after crackdown has started increasing while the higher selling of export proceeds provided much needed liquidity to importers.

Currency dealers in the open market confirmed that inflows of remittances have increased and the exchange companies have been selling surplus millions of dollars to banks every day.

The buyers have also become cautious after the crackdown and are not buying dollars from the open market.

Sources in banks believe that remittances in September could surpass $2.5bn, above $2bn last month.

The crackdown has virtually halted the inflow of remittances through Hundi and Hawala. Now the inflows are being directed towards the banking channel.

In FY23, due to a large grey market, the country lost $4.2bn. The amount was so big that the economy could not afford it and had to accept a number of conditions before reaching an agreement with the IMF.

Currency experts said if the crackdown remained effective for six months, market confidence in the local currency would return and domestic investment will rise.

Currently, investments have come to a standstill. Private sector borrows mostly to meet its working capital needs.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2023

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