Forex markets remain closed amid strike

KABUL (Tolo News): The country’s main forex markets have remained closed for the past four days amid a strike by money exchangers who are protesting the Central Bank’s move to issue company-based licenses instead of individual permits. The ongoing strike by money exchangers has created problems for Kabul residents–who need to exchange and transfer funds–as the city has only one main forex market.

Money changers who are asking for a renewal of an individual rather than corporate license say that they won’t stop their protest until the government responds to their demands. According to money exchangers, the renewal of new individual licenses has been suspended by the Central Bank. Therefore, the money exchangers have closed forex markets in Kabul and few other provinces over the last four days.

“It is good to have renewed our old licenses, but we should be allowed to have our branches in provinces and continue our activities normally,” a money exchanger Mohammad Sarwar Ansari said. “We will continue our strike until the removal of the limitations applied to our individual licenses affecting our activities,” said Fazel Karim Ebrahimkhail, a money exchanger.

The Central Bank and money exchangers should put an end to this problem as soon as possible, said an MP. Several money markets are closed in Kabul as well as in some provinces over the past three days. Considering the current situation in the country, some MPs and people said they are in need of monetary services and there is no alternative available.

“As people are facing troubles, responsibility goes to those who brought us into such a circumstance,” said Abdul Ahad, head of the Kunduz money exchangers’ union. Afghan parliament called for the reopening of money exchanging markets in Kabul and the provinces. “The legislation that the Central Bank is trying to enforce is not applicable even in Europe and the United States. How can we implement it in Afghanistan, a country that has been is in war for 40 years?” asked Gul Ahmad Noorzad, an MP from Nimroz.

The Central Bank says its decision is a move against money laundering and the support of terrorists and said the money exchangers’ opposition to the decision is not in favor of the country’s national interests. “We don’t know why the respected money exchangers fear obtaining corporate licenses as obtaining the licenses requires the same procedures as individual licenses,” said Esmatullah Kohsar, head of the media office of the Central Bank. “Even corporate licenses have more facilities and benefits than individual licenses.” Money exchangers said the Central Bank has started the process of issuing corporate licenses for the last few years, but a few money exchangers have obtained the new licenses so far.