The Pakistani rupee (PKR) has shown remarkable strength, appreciating by 4 rupees against the US dollar (USD) in the open market, with current quotes at 301/305 around noon. In just four days, the PKR gained an impressive 30 rupees (9.97 per cent), moving from PKR 331 to PKR 301 against the USD.
Simultaneously, in the interbank market, PKR appreciated by 2 rupees in today’s session, quoted at 302.74/302.84, following a similar gain in the previous interbank session, reducing the gap between the interbank and open market to 0.57 per cent.
This surge in the local currency is attributed to reforms by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in the exchange companies sector. These reforms aim to consolidate exchange companies into a single category with a well-defined mandate and higher capital requirements, also encouraging banks to establish wholly owned exchange companies.
An ongoing crackdown against speculators, hoarders, and smugglers has further boosted sentiment, reducing the disparity between the open market and interbank rates below the IMF’s recommended threshold.
The black market for Hawala/Hundi has also seen a significant decline in dollar rates. Previously, rising demand for dollars due to speculation and smuggling had widened the gap between open market and interbank rates, exceeding IMF recommendations.
The government’s initiatives effectively curb speculative activities in the open market without interbank intervention. Further improvements are expected if similar measures are taken against gold smuggling, as individuals may opt for smuggled gold investments in the absence of dollar access.