Mamarizo Nurmuratov, chairman of the Central Bank of Uzbekistan, confirmed at a press conference on July 21 that it is now difficult for the country's commercial banks to import foreign currency in cash on their own.
“Our banks and banks of neighboring countries mainly used to bring foreign cash from Russian banks. To date, Russian banks are under sanctions. This has drastically reduced the access to foreign currency for our banks,” the head of the Central Bank said.
Starting from March, the Central Bank centrally delivers cash foreign currency to Uzbekistan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and provides it to local banks. Over the past two months, cash banknotes worth $2.5 billion have been brought in.
“Based on the order of our commercial banks, we satisfy their demand for currency once or twice, and sometimes three times a month… But this does not mean that banks themselves cannot import currency. They can also import currency from their foreign correspondent banks in European countries and use it for their foreign exchange transactions or money transfers,” he said.
Mamarizo Nurmuratov named another reason for the sharp reduction in the delivery of cash currency by Uzbek banks from Europe.
“There are also certain political conditions here. Therefore, European banks issue [cash to Uzbek banks] with some caution and apprehension. Secondly, the commission of commercial banks for issuing cash [currency] has increased dramatically,” he said.
According to the head of the Central Bank, banks need to pay a commission of 0.3-0.4% to other banks for receiving cash, while the Central Bank of Uzbekistan imports foreign currency by paying a commission of 0.12%.
“Not a single European bank has put us any restrictions for getting cash,” he added.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, it was difficult for commercial banks to independently import foreign currency in cash due to air travel restrictions imposed by most countries. Then the Central Bank also organized a centralized delivery of currency for banks.