Largest commercial bank in T&T halts sale of foreign exchange

Port of Spain, Trinidad (CMC) — The Central Bank of Trinidad and Trinidad and Tobago says it has “consistently supported the foreign exchange market” as one of the country’s largest commercial banks announced it was suspending the sale of all foreign currencies.

The move by Republic Bank Limited (RBL) comes amidst reports of a shortage of US currency in recent months with many businesses blaming the Central Bank for the shortage due to a new policy it has implemented in the distribution of foreign currency.

The Trinidad Express newspaper Friday reported that the position by Republic Bank Limited means that customers walking into the bank would not be able to purchase US currency immediately and even then “customers would get the amount which they have requested”.

The paper quoted the bank’s communication manager Michelle Palmer Keizer as saying that the financial institution would be making no “additional comment..as to why we took the decision”.

But in a statement in response to questions sent by reporters, the Central Bank said it has “consistently supported the foreign exchange market with larger and more frequent sales of foreign exchange so far in 2015”.

It said that from January 1 to August 13 this year, it has supported the foreign exchange market with US$1.5 billion, an increase of US$524 million than the same period in 2014.

“As the largest bank based on market share, RBL receives 25 per cent of Central Bank’s sales to the foreign exchange market. For the year-to-date, RBL has received close to US$375 million, with the latest injection being US$18.75 million … August 13, 2015,” the bank said.

The Central Bank said that it would continue to meet the shortfall in the foreign exchange market especially during “this period of increased demand and reduced supply”.

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