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Moneychangers observe countrywide strike

KARACHI (November 09 2002) : Moneychangers on Friday observed countrywide strike, protesting against rising incidents of killing and robbery.

Demanding extra security measures, over 350 licensed moneychangers across the country kept the shutters of their business offices closed and asked the government to take stern action against dacoits.

On Thursday night, some unidentified gunmen deprived a Rawalpindi moneychanger of 1,500 tola gold worth Rs 10 million.

According to details, the moneychanger was coming to Rawalpindi from Islamabad airport when his car was intercepted by gunmen, who opened fire on the car, seriously injuring all the five persons in the car. The gunmen then took away a bag having 1,500 tola gold worth Rs 10 million. The driver of the car was in a critical condition.

“We have closed our business all over Pakistan today (Friday). This was the 10th big robbery against the moneychangers in a few months,” said Malik Bostan, President, Forex Association of Pakistan.

He said at least four people, associated with the foreign currency business, were killed in 10 big robberies.

“If the government does not provide protection, the moneychangers will completely close their business,” warned Bostan, who claims that the moneychangers had been extremely helpful when the government was foreign exchange crisis.

“We provided foreign exchange when the government was about to default because there was no foreign exchange in its reserves,” Bostan said.

He said the moneychangers' contribution was six billion dollars in the government's total reserves of over eight billion dollars.

The State Bank had been buying dollars from the open market to meet its requirement for debt servicing and improved its forex reserves.

The State Bank has now stopped buying from the open market. The market is facing difficulties as it lost the advantage of higher dollar prices compared to inter-bank market. Now the dollar rates are slightly higher in inter-bank market, which makes the open market less attractive.

“We have written letters to President Pervez Musharraf, the Interior minister, governors and the Finance Minister to give us time and discuss the serious situation,” he said, adding that future strategy would be devised after the meetings with the President and others.

The closure of money market created problems for the overseas Pakistanis, who have come home for Ramazan and Eid.

They bring hard currencies and used to get exchange from the open market. Each year the turnout of moneychangers market doubles because of Eid remittances.

Those Pakistanis, who intend to leave for Saudi Arabia to perform Umra, would also suffer with the closure of the market.

“We demand arrest of the robbers, recovery of stolen gold and complete government protection,” he said.

Moneychangers observe strike

LAHORE: The local moneychangers observed strike in protest against dacoity incident. The currency dealers in the provincial metropolis kept closed their business to show solidarity with the Rawalpindi based moneychangers.

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