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Apr 1, 2020

Enough Foreign Exchange in the Local Market, Says PM Barrow

Dean Barrow

Supermarkets and select grocery stores will be allowed to remain open during the next thirty days of a national state of emergency.  On a needs only basis, persons will be allowed to purchase dry goods, as well as other imported items which means that other businesses within the supply chain would need direct access to foreign exchange.  The availability of U.S. dollars remains a concern for a number of importers who say there is some difficulty in securing American currency within the local market.  Prime Minister Barrow told the media during Tuesday’s press conference that there is enough U.S. dollars presently being held by the commercial banks.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The foreign exchange applications are going, in the first instance, to the commercial banks.  They are working together with the Central Bank on a system of prioritization.  We know, for example, we must pay for energy that comes from C.F.E., so B.E.L. is a priority.  We must pay for fuel and Puma has to get the foreign exchange so that we can import fuel.  So there is that kind of priority list that has been developed but the importers are in fact somewhere on that list, not at the top, not necessarily near to the very top and there is at this point in time enough foreign exchange for them to be able to get their fair share.  The time may well come when we need to say to people we’re going to cutback on nonessential imports, on luxury items being imported, but we’re not there yet.  I should have said earlier that one of the things we’re doing and this one is being handled by the financial secretary is to have a discussion with the IMF as to some balance of payments support.  That’s not as important as the other flows that we are getting which will put cash and food directly to our people.  But getting balance of pay support will mean and additional infusion of foreign exchange and now that I mention it, everything that we are getting from the I.D.B., from the World Bank, from OFID, those are infusions of foreign exchange.  So we are being careful, we are monitoring the situation closely but we’re not yet at a point where the Central Bank would have to intervene and start giving out foreign exchange from its own reserves.  The amount of foreign exchange that the commercial banks have on hand is adequate for the time being.”

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