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Coronavirus Outbreak

Bangladesh Bank extends forex support for Bangladeshis stranded abroad

Staff Correspondent | Published: 22:31, Mar 30,2020

 
 

MasterCard and VISA credit cards are seen in this picture illustration. — Reuters photo

The Bangladesh Bank has extended foreign currency facility for the Bangladeshi nationals stranded abroad due to the travel ban imposed by different countries amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the extended facility, Bangladeshi nationals would be entitled to get cash facility beyond the allowable limit specified by the central bank, a BB official said.

The BB came to know that many Bangladeshi nationals were in dire need of money in different countries after exhausting their endorsed card limit and the currencies with them, prompting the central bank to take the step, the official said.

To this end, the central bank’s foreign exchange policy department issued a circular on Sunday.

It said, ‘It is observed that Bangladeshi nationals visiting abroad are facing problems for returning home due to travel disruptions arising out of COVID-19 pandemic.’

To facilitate their expenses required abroad, it has been decided to allow banks to release foreign exchange within the permissible limit on travel and/or medical entitlement in their international cards, it said.

Within the existing regulatory framework, Bangladeshi nationals each are allowed to spend up to $12,000 or equivalent amount of money in other currencies in a calendar year while traveling abroad for private purposes.

Of the allowable amount, each individual is permitted to carry highest $5,000 in cash in the US dollar notes and the rest of the money through credit cards or in cash in other convertible currencies including the euro, pound and yuan.

In addition to the $12,000, people traveling abroad on medical ground are allowed to spend another $10,000 each in a year.

Apart from the usual limit, banks were be allowed to remit to the designated accounts abroad by way of bank transfer or make fund available to them through exchange houses by credit in the related taka accounts maintained under drawing arrangements, the BB circular said.

In case of excess fund requirements due to any unavoidable situation, the banks are also allowed to release reasonable amount for subsistence of the travellers concerned to cope up with the situation, subject to post-facto approval of the BB, it said.

Under the facility, relatives of the stranded individuals would be able to remit money by using PIN number-based money transfer service like Western Union.

However, the banks, before releasing foreign exchange, will have to satisfy themselves regarding the authenticity of the request.

In a separate circular, the BB on Sunday said that the Bangladesh Automated Clearing House (BACH) of the central bank would remain functional from Monday to Thursday this week.

The central bank made the decision with a view to facilitating payments of social allowances, ensuring other government services, supply of goods, and emergency inter-bank transactions to serve the poor and helpless people.

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