TABAQUITE MP Dr Surujrattan Rambachan yesterday complained about unfairness in the distribution of foreign exchange (forex) by commercial banks. Rambachan made his complaint on the basis of a notice issued by state bank First Citizens (FCB).
The notice indicated that since last Friday, limits would be applied to all foreign exchange to be sold to individuals. FCB customers will be allowed a maximum of $300; citizens who are not FCB customers receive a maximum of $150 and non-nationals get a maximum of $50.
The bank said to receive those funds, the traveller must produce his or her passport and boarding pass. Other conditions may apply. As well as Rambachan, numerous other social-media users shared and complained about the limit on funds.
In a statement, FCB explained the notice was part of the normal adjustment to the supply of forex to its customers and non-customers at its Bureau de Change at Piarco Airport, which it said was being done to facilitate increased demand for forex during the vacation period.
“In this way we strive to ensure that as many of our customers and persons wanting to buy forex at the airport have access to some level of currency.”
Citizens who are FCB customers could typically access up to US$500; non-customers up to US$250 and non nationals up to US$100 but the statement said the lower limits would remain in effect until further notice. FCB said, “We will continue to review the situation and make adjustments as necessary to ensure we can satisfy as large a group of clients as possible.”
The bank said its clients could continue to go to their branches and make requests for forex as usual. Rambachan said the arrnagement laid out in the notice shared online was a disproportionate allocation of forex, particularly now when people are trying to go on vacation or enroll their children in school overseas. While some people are unable to access the US dollars that they have in their bank accounts, Rambachan claimed there are other people who are able to get whatever amount of forex that they want.
He said a constituent told him he had paid a rate of $8 to US$1 to get foreign exchange recently. Rambachan was concerned that was fuelling an activate black market in the country for foreign exchange.