Kandahar: Covert transactions still take place in rupee
KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Despite a ban on the use of the Pakistani currency in southern Kandahar province, covert transactions in the rupee continue to take place.
About two months ago, the rupee locally known as ‘kaldar,’ was banned in Kandahar, with local residents and businessmen thronging moneychangers to convert rupees into afghanis.
The mass conversion led to appreciation of the afghani against the rupee and the US dollar.
Security officials also seriously pushed the ban but later they turned away their attention from the matter and people resumed deals in the rupee but in secret.
Most of the business transactions take place in the rupee in Spin Boldak district which borders Pakistan and is the main trade centre between the two countries.
Samim, who runs a food items shop in Wesh bazaar of Spin Boldak district, said when the ban on the rupee was imposed, police would monitor the ban’s implementation. Police would fine violators of the ban, he said.
But transactions in the rupee resumed after the police softened stance on the ban. Now both currencies are used, he said.
Samim estimated that 80 percent of transactions took place in the Pakistani rupee in Spin Boldak and the remaining in the afghani. But people still feared police action and did business secretly in the rupee, he said, suggesting a long-term oversight of the affair.
But the situation is different in Kandahar city, the provincial capital, where most commercial transactions take place in the afghani.
Asmatullah, who runs a shop in Herat bazaar of the city, said people now tried their best to do business in the afghani after the rupee was banned.
He said transactions in the rupee might take place in some cases and the reason could be softening of police reaction to the ban.
Moneychangers market head in Kandahar Haji Qandi Agha said transactions in the rupee had dropped extensively in the city compared to the past. However, he did not rule out secret transactions in the kaldar.
Agha said if the ban, which remained confined to Kandahar province alone, had been effectively imposed in other southern provinces, the outcome would have been better.
Central bank official in Kandahar Mohammad Naeem Akbari said the ban had resulted in unprecedentedly increased transactions in the afghani.
He said security forces still subjected to legal action those violating the ban and an awareness programme lasted several months through the media highlighting the importance of doing business in the afghani.
Nearly all transactions happened in the afghani in Kandahar City but covert transactions took place in the foreign currency in Spin Boldak district because it lied close to Pakistan, he said.
The central bank official said their efforts at promoting the use of the afghani were ongoing in cooperation with security forces.
To a question, he said traders preferred selling products they had purchased in Pakistan in the rupee in order to avoid losses. But he rejected traders’ this excuse as unacceptable, saying traders in other countries used to buy goods in foreign currency, but they sold the same at home in local currency.
Police spokesman Zia Durrani said security forces remained serious in imposition of the ban on the Pakistani currency. He said those violating the ban were being subjected to legal action.
He said a number of shops had been briefly closed and their owners fined over transactions in the rupee. He did not provide further details.
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