US dollars are only available on the black market as domestic banks and official currency exchange counters with licences from the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) have stopped selling.
Ko Thiha, a trader at Yuzana Plaza and Mingalar market, said: “It’s been a month since I could buy dollars at the government’s official exchange counters. Today, I went to those counters but they did not sell dollars. They said they had nothing to sell. There are many exchange counters near Yuzana Plaza and Mingalar market. I could not buy dollars from the banks either. I think the big banks manipulate the price on purpose. Dollars are available on Shwebonetha Street. I think they are doing it intentionally so the dollar price goes up.”
An importer said: “When I went to the private exchange counters to buy dollars, they had stopped. Then I went to a bank but in vain. I had to buy dollars on the street at a higher price.”
On May 25, dollars sold at Ks1,089 and cost Ks1,091 at the private banks’ exchange counters. The CBM’s rate was Ks1,082.
On the street, the rates were Ks1,125 and Ks1,127. The export earning per dollar was Ks 1,128.
Than Lwin, a senior adviser to the Kanbawza Bank, said: “We have to buy dollars from others to resell. How can we sell dollars if we cannot buy them?”
The CBM adopted a managed float for its currency in April 2012 and released the daily exchange rates. It granted exchange licences to private banks in September 2011 and granted authorised dealer licences to non-banking institutions in December 2012 to run counters.
An official from the CBM’s foreign exchange management department said: “Fluctuation in the exchange rate is common. But now the fact that the exchange counters don’t sell dollars is meaningless, according to the nature of market. They will have to buy and sell dollars at the appropriate prices. They keep dollars in their hands without selling them. This is a clear message that the value of the dollar will increase. The dollar price should depend on market conditions. We will scrutinise it. It is meaningless according to the working process and the trading concept.”
Maw Than of the CBM told a meeting at the Auditor-General’s Office in Yangon that only 40 per cent of the export earnings went to the country’s account.
The CBM said there is no limit to how many exchange licences that can be issued.
Licences have been issued to two state-owned and 21 private banks. There are 563 exchange counters.
Source: Eleven Media