Central Bank Discusses Stricter Rules for Currency Exchanges

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian Central Bank is currently discussing measures that will see the number of currency exchange offices gradually decline in the next few years–a senior executive said on Tuesday. Ruben Valesian–a member of the Central Bank board said there are now "outrageously numerous" currency bureaus in Armenia that fall short of "accepted norms."

"Today we have many exchange offices that are formally affiliated with banks but in reality have no connection with them whatsoever," Valesian told a news conference. He said the Central Bank will introduce new requiremen’s for currency dealers–including adequate equipment and minimum area.

Analysts say that the measure is aimed at combating shadow and speculative currency transactions that are mainly carried out in cash. The existing small offices exchanging the Armenian dram for foreign currencies are only required to pay a fixed monthly fee–while the volume of their turnover remains unaccounted for. Their total number is estimated at roughly 500.

Valesian also said that if finally approved–the new requiremen’s will be introduced gradually. "I think we should give them two or three years to meet these standards," he said.

Although the floating exchange rate of the dram is mainly determined at an inter-bank currency trading–retail offices are also believed to be important in Armenia.

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