Debate in Tunisia on the role of foreign exchange against the black market


The Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) has authorized foreign exchange activities outside the banking system, for the benefit of a group of approved manual exchange offices. This has allowed financial activities to grow and evolve in recent months, reaching around 25 offices, up from seven in June.

The governor of the BCT, Marouane Abassi, confirmed that the bank had approved 45 requests to open exchange offices since the beginning of the year, which should help to increase the number of these offices working in coordination with the Central bank and the rest of the banking system. .

Abbasi hopes this will reduce illegal and speculative activities that are part of illegal financial operations, such as on the black market.

There are currently six exchange offices in Tunis, six in Sousse and three in Nabeul, Mahdia and Madania.

Legally, exchange offices are linked to the BCT, which determines the conditions for obtaining their approvals and the grounds for revoking their approval in the event of a breach.

Anyone wishing to engage in a manual exchange is required to provide a bank guarantee of approximately $ 17,000 to the central bank.

The bank confirmed that licensed manual exchange bureaus will help legalize the purchase of foreign currency, which will limit illegal means of buying and selling foreign currency in Tunisia.

At least $ 1 billion is traded outside the banking system, causing enormous economic damage as a result of dwindling domestic foreign exchange reserves and banks losing a large financial commission on various foreign exchange transactions, according to official statistics.

Some experts are skeptical about the effectiveness of these bureaus in reducing the phenomenon of illegal hard currency speculation.

However, others believe the results are starting to be felt, with Tunisia’s foreign exchange reserves reaching around 95 days of supply, after hitting a low of 73 in early 2019.

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