It is with concern that I have noticed in a newspaper that the US dollar spending limit on credit cards issued by Republic Bank Ltd has been lowered from US$12,000 to US$10,000.
This means the Central Bank governor is causing businesses to have less access to foreign exchange for their use when, according to the Central Bank, this country’s net foreign reserves were US$6.86 billion at the end of January in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund.
I am calling on the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister to correct this situation, as former governments have used ECO forms when there was a shortage of foreign exchange.
Importers were asked to submit to the Central Bank their Customs Entries for the previous year in order to get foreign exchange for the entire year on ECO forms. Each company would, therefore, receive their allocated amount on the ECO forms to submit to their bankers.
Such a system has not been implemented by the Central Bank, which is causing chaos for businesses, as they now have to deal as many as eight banks to get a small amount foreign exchange.
This inevitably leads to the late payment to foreign suppliers. This situation is also leading to the retrenchment of workers.
Because of the US$6.86 billion the Central Bank is holding in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, there should not be a shortage of foreign exchange.
This is why I recommend that for this year, 50 per cent of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund be used, leaving roughly US$3 billion in reserve until next year, as the minister of energy and energy affairs stated that income from oil and natural gas, our country’s main income earners, will improve in 2022.