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Tuesday January 31, 2023

In bid to dent grey market, exchange companies remove US dollar cap

Dollar expected to be traded at Rs254-257 after cap removal, says ECAP General Secretary Zafar Paracha

By Riaz Andy & Web Desk
January 24, 2023
A vendor at an exchange company counts dollars in this undated photograph. — AFP/File
A vendor at an exchange company counts dollars in this undated photograph. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) has decided  — effective from tomorrow (Wednesday) — to remove the cap on the US dollar, in a bid to end the surging "artificial" demand for the greenback in the money market.

The dollar is currently being traded at three different rates: the official rate of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the exchange companies' rate, and the rate in the black market.

After a meeting of the ECAP members, the association said it was withdrawing the cap on the US dollar as the limit was causing adverse effects.

"There was artificial demand in the market as people would buy the dollar from us and sell it in the grey market," the association's statement mentioned, highlighting the impact of different rates.

As a result of a large number of people opting for this, business was shifting from official channels to grey ones, hurting not only the reserves but also dealing losses to the exchange companies.

Explaining the reason behind the removal of the cap, the association said that once the dollar was allowed to trade at the market value, the customers would automatically shift from the grey market to the legitimate channels.

In a conversation with Geo.tv after the meeting, ECAP General Secretary Zafar Paracha said that as much as 90% of the demand was "fictitious" — people would buy dollars from official channels and sell them to illegitimate dealers.

"Through this step, we aim to provide people with the actual value of their money. Supply of the dollar will increase and demand will come down; it will have a positive impact on the market."

Paracha added that although the rates would be determined by market forces, he foresaw the dollar being traded at Rs254-257 — close to the price in the black market.

In response to a question whether he believes Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would remove the cap placed on the dollar, Paracha said: "I am hopeful that things will move in a better direction."

The ECAP general secretary said that in the last 8-10 days, the dollar's value had increased against the rupee — which closed at 230.40 in the interbank market today.