By Adel Kadhem
Azzaman, April 22, 2013
To stem a rush on the U.S. the dollar, the government has forbidden banks from selling the currency at official prices, restricting the trade to two branches of the state-run al-Rasheed Bank.
The restrictions follow a surge in demand for the greenback and what the Finance Ministry has described in a statement “manipulative moves” to cash in on foreign exchange trade.
The statement said Deputy Finance Minister Ali al-Shukri has prevented banks from selling the dollar at government-imposed rates, confining the sale to the main al-Rasheed Bank headquarters in Baghdad and another branch in Shorja, the capital’s commercial center.
Previously, Iraqis were allowed to buy as many dollars as they wanted as the Central Bank furnished both private and state-owned banks with millions of dollars every day.
But there has been an unprecedented demand for the dollar to the extent that the Central Bank feared it could no longer keep drawing on its hard cash reserves to meet local needs.
Iraqis willing to buy the dollar at official rates, which are lower than rates prevalent in the open market, will have to produce a passport and an air ticket to be legible to buy.
It is the first time the government introduces such restrictions on the trade of the dollar since the 2003-U.S. invasion.