Banks in Turkmenistan stop dollar sales

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Authorities in Turkmenistan have restricted the use of hard currencies in the country. Banks in Turkmenistan have stopped selling US dollars but they still buy them, the Alternative News of Turkmenistan website reported on January 12.

Authorities have also fully banned the black-market currency exchange on Turkmen bazaars and police now catch illegal currency exchangers and take them to police stations.      

Turkmen citizens that are going abroad are recommended to obtain Visa cards in Turkmenistan’s Vnesheconombank, deposit Turkmen manats on them, and then withdraw dollars while abroad, the website reports.

Employees at banks in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, told customers on January 12 that the ban on the sale of US dollars and other hard currencies would remain in place indefinitely, RFE/RL reported.

Turkmenistan, whose main export is natural gas, devalued the manat by about 19 percent to 3.5 manats per dollar on January 1, 2015.

Rumors of another sharp devaluation have created strong demand for foreign currencies, with long lines reported daily outside exchange bureaus in Ashgabat and elsewhere.

The US dollar jumped to 4.0-4.2 manats on the black market on January 12 from 3.6-3.7 manats.

From last December, dollars and euros could be purchased in Ashgabat only with special coupons, the Fergana information agency reported. From January 5, Turkmen citizens willing to buy foreign currency have been required to submit not only their passports but also salary declarations.

Sergey Kwan

TCA