For the second day in a row, chaos reigned in Baghdad’s government and private bank branches, with large crowds arriving to withdraw whatever amounts they could deposit in US dollars, amid fears of “banks exploiting depositors’ accounts,” according to several customers.
The Central Bank settles dollar deposits as follows: The age of “dollarization” in Iraq has come to an end.
Customers have been flocking to major and regional bank locations since Monday morning in the hopes of withdrawing their dollar holdings.
Most banks continue to refuse to release client balances due to a shortage of foreign currency cash availability.
Security was strengthened to prevent the media from covering the scene inside or around banks.
A number of clients have described the banks’ conduct as “organized theft,” with worries of “bad exploitation” of depositors’ and dollar account holders’ holdings.
Customers were separated into three groups: those who wanted to shut their bank accounts, those who did not want to close them, and those who wanted to wait until the end of the year.
Those who want to shut their accounts think that doing so would compel the bank to pay out the remainder of their balances, but others appear more direct by requesting that their account be emptied out and kept open without a balance in the expectation of using it if the situation changes.
Those seeking access to their dollar balances are concerned that banks may delay disbursements in order to provide them in Iraqi dinars and at the official exchange rate after the end of the current year, causing depositors to lose a significant portion of the value of their accounts.
Customers who decided to wait do not have large accounts or are unconcerned with the value of their holdings altering later while the central bank works out a solution.
According to a source in one of Baghdad’s banks, “we advised customers to wait a day or two while we awaited the arrival of an increase in our balances from the Central Bank, which today disbursed a new portion of them.”
The 964 network has the following number of bank customers:
Bank executives’ remarks cannot be believed. We’ve relied on them for a long time, and they’ve gotten us to where we are now.
To end the problem, the government must step in. The dollar problem cannot be remedied in this manner, which increased the market exchange rate rather than contributing to its regulation.