Amidst a determined crackdown on smuggling and illegal financial activities, the Pakistani rupee has emerged as the world’s top-performing currency for September. During this remarkable month, the rupee’s value surged from Rs305.54 against the US dollar on August 31st to Rs287.74 on September 28th, a notable increase of Rs17.8 or 6.2 per cent.
Impressively, this positive trend persisted for 17 consecutive trading sessions, resulting in an overall gain of nearly 7 per cent since hitting its lowest point at 307.1 on September 5th.
It’s essential to note that the currency market was closed on Friday, September 29th. In terms of global currency performance, the Mauritian rupee secured the second position with a modest appreciation of 0.7 per cent, while the Hong Kong dollar claimed third place, showing a slight improvement of 0.2 per cent throughout September. These figures are based on data from the brokerage house Arif Habib Limited (AHL), reported on a recent Friday.
Financial experts attribute this remarkable rupee surge to a series of government measures aimed at curbing dollar smuggling and currency hoarding. Additionally, during the same month, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) introduced structural reforms targeting the Exchange Companies (ECs) sector. These reforms included a directive for commercial banks to establish their own ECs as wholly-owned subsidiaries and an increase in the minimum capital requirement for ECs from Rs200 million to Rs500 million.
Notably, the Pakistani rupee recorded substantial gains in the inter-bank market, appreciating by 6-9 per cent against three major currencies – the US dollar, UK Pound, and Euro – over the past few weeks. Even in the open market, the rupee showed a significant upswing of 11-13 per cent, effectively eliminating the premium associated with the open-market rate. This is particularly impressive given that the US Dollar index reached a 10-month high.
This strengthening of the rupee aligns with the commitment made by Pakistani authorities in July when they entered into a vital $3 billion Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This agreement was pivotal in averting a potential sovereign default and required the adoption of a market-based exchange rate, which has now proven to be a pivotal factor in the rupee’s impressive resurgence.