Despite there being continued insistence from Government and the Central Bank that there is no shortage of foreign currency, Guyanese continue to report difficulty when they try to source United States dollars either at registered Cambios or even at local banks.
This was confirmed by News Room which conducted an experiment by having a member of staff attempting to secure US$1500 from four major Cambios and from two of the larger banks operating in Guyana.
Checks at the Cambios revealed that none of the businesses had the cash readily available. However, one dealer did say that they could make the monies available but at a higher rate than what was advertised at $215 for US$1. The dealer explained that because he would have to purchase the sum from someone else, the new selling price would be $220.
The fourth Cambio said it could make the cash available but later in the day at the advertised selling rate of $215. The News Room then sought to secure an even larger sum of US dollars from this cambio given the earlier positive response. This led to the cambio quoting an increased rate of $222 for US$1.
Checks at the two major banks with international ties to see whether the situation would prove different did reveal some notable differences. At the first bank, the selling rate for the US dollar was $215 and all transactions were being done at this rate. However, when we attempted to purchase currency we were told that none was available.
At the second bank, while the selling rate for the US dollar was $210 we were told that only US$500 would be available for purchase.
Today, (Thursday, March 30, 2017) the Bank of Guyana website is advertising the selling rate for the US dollar at $208.44 with a buying rate of $205.98.
Last week when Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and Central Bank Governor, Dr Gobind Ganga met with the members of the Guyana Association of Bankers it was decided that meetings with the Bankers group would be held on a more consistent basis to address the issue.
Jordan, said the meeting will focus on issues “such as how the Central Bank will continue to support them to get over this hump, which we all agree is usually a dry period for the supply of foreign currency. Even in good times, January and February are always tough months. They are going to meet and determine on their side what they are going to do and on the Central Bank side, how they would support them.”
The stakeholders had agreed to meet today.
According to Jordan, the recent currency fluctuations are being driven by several known gold producers and exporters and additional players. He added that other players or ‘demanders’ of foreign currency are now in the market and there appears to be hoarding taking place.
A solution put forward by Minister Jordan to ease the current currency fluctuations is that Central Bank would first seek to persuade those account holders to use their funds, “instead of purchasing from the market to avoid a run on the rate.” If that fails, he noted the Central Bank’s Board would have to consider ordering the closure of those accounts.