Strong Rupee! Grape!

If the government wants the rupee to be treated like a mature currency, then it should stop treating it like a spoiled child

Mature currencies don’t need babying. And despite the posturing by the government of Pakistan and its central bank that the rupee is stronger than it seems and can hold its own, it seems we are once again in a situation where the SBP is playing protective parent to the rupee. 

And why wouldn’t they? This entire year has seen the rupee being bullied on the international markets and despite a brief recovery during the time that talks with the IMF were going well, the Pakistani rupee has been swaying and swinging all over the place punch-drunk from the many beatings it has taken in recent days. 

The news that the State Bank of Pakistan is now putting limits on how much cash in foreign currency can be carried for international travel indicates exactly this. The SBP’s announcement did not just put a simple limit but even specified that adults (people over the age of 18) were allowed to carry $5000 while children were allowed to carry $2500 per visit. If you usually make multiple trips abroad in a year, you are allowed to carry $30,000 in total as an adult and $15,000 in total as a child under 18 throughout the year.

Far from being the sign of a stable currency, the tactic points towards a certain desperation to keep dollars within the country and really sheds light on all claims that the rupee is on the road to recovery. It is also important to note that traveling with children is expensive and sometimes requires more money than adults themselves.

The SBP did not stop with just cash. After observing some fishy activities on credit and debit card transactions, the SBP imposed limits on those also. The State Bank noted that transactions done through cards do not align with the individuals’ profiles.

 

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Ariba Shahid
The author is a business journalist at Profit. She can be reached at [email protected] or at twitter.com/AribaShahid

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