01 августа 2014 21:50

Astana residents stocking up on dollars 'just in case'


Long queues for dollars ©Turar Kazangapov Long queues for dollars ©Turar Kazangapov

Astana residents have been buying into dollars heavily on Thursday. They were doing it “just in case” as one woman said, Tengrinews reports.

Astana residents have been buying into dollars heavily on Thursday. They were doing it “just in case” as one woman said, Tengrinews reports.

A Tengrinews correspondent checked the situation in Astana currency exchange bureaus in the morning and evening of July 31.

She discovered that everything was calm in the morning. Moreover, three out of six exchangers that she visited did not even sell dollars. Their staff explained that they ran out the bills but promised to resume the sales in the afternoon. There were no queues at that point yesterday. The exchange rate was at 184.8 tenge per $1. It was a regular morning. 

However, the situation changed during the day and became completely different in the evening. Two exchange offices on one of the main avenues suddenly hiked the price to 187 tenge. Residents started lining up in queues to make it to the currency exchange counter.

"Everyone is afraid that one dollar will cost 200 tenge or even more, so they try to make the purchase now," the queueing Astana residents explained.

But none of them really knew why they came, they were all asking each other. "I want to exchange 200,000 tenge, just in case," said one woman to the other. Many wondered: they exchanged money the day before and everything was quiet, but today – there is a queue.

Some Astana residents have taken spots in several queues to make sure they get their chance. Many establishments kept the exchange rate at 185 tenge but after 7 p.m. put “No more dollars” signs out. One of the employees explained: "We have not changed [the exchange rate] and have been selling at 185 tenge during the whole day. Now there are no more dollars, everyone is buying at 185. There was a queue, they bought all we had."

Another exchange office that ran out of money said that they could not say what the exchange rate would be the next day: "The situation is changing all the time, it will be clarified after the results of trading at the stock exchange are out tomorrow." Another exchange office just removed all the indicators from its currency board.

Meanwhile, the biggest city of Kazakhstan Almaty was not experiencing a rush to buy dollars. The exchange rate was between 183.6 and 184.7 tenge.

On the evening the same day, National Bank Governor’s advisor Olzhas Khudaibergenov dispelled the devaluation rumors on his Facebook page. The tenge per dollar exchange rate at the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange on Thursday was even lower than usual: the average was at 183.05 tenge and the trading closed at 183.5 tenge.

Reporting by Assemgul Kasenova and Azhar Ashirova, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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