Tajikistan tightens rules on sending money abroad
It has now become harder — almost impossible — to send cash to non-Tajik nationals.
Tajikistan has tightened rules on sending money out of the country, complicating conditions for private companies and people wishing to provide cash to relatives overseas.
The rules were adopted in March but have only come into effect in the last few days.
What the new system has brought about was well illustrated in a story by Asia-Plus news agency, which ran an account on May 7 about a Tajik citizen called Tatyana Ivanova. As the website explained, Ivanova was forced to go around to several banks trying to find one that would agree to send her money to a relative in Ukraine. In the end, she was forced to ask a Russian national to do the transaction for her.
Only a few money wiring services — Zolotaya Korona, Unistream and Western Union — are still available to the local market. But the overlapping restrictions makes it complicated to know which company will do what.
Zolotaya Korona and Unistream can only be used for cash transfers to other Tajik nationals in what is designated as the “near abroad,” code for parts of the former Soviet Union. Western Union will process payments destined further afield, but there is only one bank in Tajikistan — Spitamen Bank — that processes payments for the company.
Foreign citizens are not allowed to send money to anybody other than Tajik nationals or for purposes somehow related to Tajikistan.
There is also a limit on how much can be sent daily. An employee at one financial services provider said that the limit is currently around 1,800 somoni ($200).
“If you want to send more, then you need a copy of the passport of the recipient and to supply the purpose of the transfer,” the employee said.
Under National Bank guidelines, there is a $10,000 threshold for sending money abroad. Anything over that amount must come with a detail explanation for the ultimate destination of those funds.
The official explanation for the restrictions is that the government wants to ensure money wiring services do not operate in ways that financially compromise the banks at which they have their corresponding accounts. In a related measure, the National Bank has begun requiring the money transfer companies to insure their accounts, so that banks are not left out of pocket in case of something going wrong. Two popular wire companies — Migom and Lider — have gone bust while holding debt to domestic banks in recent years.
A more simple interpretation may be that the government simply wants to keep the amount of liquid funds leaving the country to an absolute minimum. That, however, is complicating matters for those companies and organizations based in Tajikistan that need to regularly pay staff abroad. Bank transfers are usually not preferred as they incur relatively onerous service payments.