31 October 2017

Burundi: Foreign Currency Prices Collapse On Black Market

There has been a significant decrease in exchange rate of foreign currencies like the US dollar and Euro since Monday 30 October. People wonder if this is to last longer.

In different foreign currency exchange offices operating in Bujumbura where Iwacu passed last Monday, a fall in prices of exchange of foreign currencies was observed. At "Face à Face Forex Bureau", a US dollar was sold at BIF 2550 and bought at BIF 2650 while it was sold at BIF 2900 and bought at BIF 2950 last week. A euro was sold at BIF 2700 and bought at BIF 2900 while its price varied between BIF3000 and BIF3400 last week. There was no big difference in exchange rate in different foreign currency exchange offices operating in Bujumbura city. A US dollar was sold at between BIF 2450 and BIF 2550 and bought at between BIF2550 and BIF2650. The euro was sold at BIF2700 and bought at BIF2900.

Foreign currency exchange offices seem to be disappointed, some of them seem reluctant to say something about the situation and prefer to tell people who need their services that they are not working. An anonymous foreign currency dealer told Iwacu that their reticence is due to the big difference in foreign exchange rate observed. "There is loss for example if you buy a US dollar at BIF 2900 and are obliged to sell it at 2450.There is a big loss for foreign currency dealers," he said that before adding that he is not sure if this is going to last for a long time.

People seem not to understand what is happening. "I am really surprised. Last week, I exchanged a US dollar at BIF2900, but I exchange it at BIF 2400. I cannot understand this but I pray so this may last longer. Maybe this will save the situation," says a gentleman met at one foreign currency exchange office.

Other customers express their satisfaction over the collapse in foreign currency prices on the black market. Abel, a client who often exchanges currency at a foreign currency exchange office, says he is very happy with the situation and hopes this will improve the economic situation in Burundi.

Gabriel Rufyiri, Chairman of a corruption watchdog (OLUCOME), appreciates this decrease in foreign currency prices and says the latter have fallen for some reasons among which is the decision of Burundi Central Bank to authorise other banks and western union agencies to give transferred money in foreign currencies .

However, Mr Rufyiri appeals to the government to review its relationship with other countries and make sure there is peace and stability so that Burundi receives again tourists and international aids as they are the major source of foreign currencies which can help boost the economy of the country.

Audace Bukuru, Chairman of the association of banks and financial institutions operating in Burundi, denies what is said that the decision to authorise banks and western union agencies to give transferred money into foreign currencies unlike before would be the cause of this decrease.

The situation is so on the black market while a US dollar is sold at BIF 1735 on the official market in the country.


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