Now Arusha to access forex in hotels, commercial banks

25Nov 2018
By Guardian Reporter
Arusha
Guardian On Sunday
Now Arusha to access forex in hotels, commercial banks

TANZANIANS and foreign tourists in need of foreign currency in Arusha region will have to use tourist hotels and commercial banks, at least for now, the Bank of Tanzania said in a press statement availed to the Guardian yesterday.

“Foreign exchange services in Arusha region will be accessible in tourist hotels and commercial banks,” BoT Deputy Governor Bernard Kibesse said in the statement.

The move follows a recent crackdown on forex shops in the city, closing a number of unregistered forex bureaux and those suspected of engaging in money laundering in the city. The operation involved at least 100 officials from the central bank and other state agencies.

However, the BoT said that in other parts of the country, forex exchange services will be available in tourist hotels, forex shops and commercial banks.

The BoT has been carrying out an inspection of forex shops in the region on suspicion of money laundering and associated illegal transactions since Monday last week.

The investigation involves state agencies where it said those implicated would be prosecuted, BoT Governor Florens Luoga reportedly said.

He said such forex shops would be closed down and charged in court and have their licences revoked in a crackdown he said was to be carried out countrywide.

The BoT suspended issuance of licences for forex shops three months ago awaiting new regulations which aim at curbing illegal foreign exchange transactions.

Observers say the closure of bureaux de change in the region will greatly affect the country’s tourism industry because it is the sector’s hub as it is the gateway to Seregenti National Park famed for the wildebeest migration and Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro.

The northern city is also the hub for conferences and the headquarters of the East African Community Secretariat, the African Court of Humana Peoples Rights while at the same time hosting a number of international conferences.

At a press conference this week, the governor refused to take questions from the press and neither did yesterday’s press statement explain the next region to be targeted for the inspection.

However, it said the bank had closed down a number of forex shops in the region which were found to be operating without following set business procedures.

At the press conference this week, the governor also defended the deployment of soldiers on Monday’s operation, saying the police were preoccupied with providing security during this year’s Form Two national examination. A BoT report said there were about 30 bureaux de change shops operating in Arusha’s central business district.