The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has sent out a team of investigators to check overcharging of foreign exchange by some banks and decide on measures to curb the malpractice, the bankÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spokesperson Ralph Tseka has confirmed.
And Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) executive director Lyness Nkungula promised to conduct her own investigation after The Nation gave her a list of banks charging more than the official K167 per dollar. She promised to comment after the exercise.
The Nation spot checks in Lilongwe on Monday morning revealed that foreign exchange bureaus owned by NBS Bank, FDH Bank and First Merchant Bank (FMB) were selling United States dollars at an average of K172.
MSB Forex Bureau is selling at K172 where as buying a dollar at K167, NBS Forex Bureau is selling at K171.95 buying at K168.95, and FMB Forex Bureau was on Tuesday selling at K171.95 but buying at K166. FDH Forex Bureau was selling at K172 where as buying at K167.
Other banks visited included Standard Bank which was selling at K168.2, but buying at K161.5, Indebank was selling at K168.57 but buying at K161.29 and National Bank online indicates cash selling at K169.1 where as buying at K163.
“We have set out an investigation team and once they report, we will see that rules and regulations are followed. It is wrong to sell forex at any other rate than the set one. We will definitely take action,” said Tseka.
But most tellers The Nation spoke to indicated they did not have any foreign currency, with some saying the situation has worsened and only customers who apply in advance get calls when money is available.
“Nobody is selling us any foreign currency, our rates are very low,” said a teller who said they do stay days without changing any money with only people walking in to ask if they could buy.
The parallel market in Lilongwe is selling the dollar between K220 tandK240 depending on availability of the currency.
This confirms fears from various stakeholders that the kwachaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s official exchange rate is over-valued, but President Bingu wa Mutharika has always been against devaluation, claiming it will hurt the poor.