Forex shortage tops obstacle list


THE foreign exchange shortage has topped the list of impediments faced by businesses — according to a survey by the Institute of National Affairs.
Institute executive director Paul Barker told The National that the shortage had surpassed health and law and order in recent years.
“The Institute of National Affairs (INA) has recently undertaken a survey of businesses across the country and from preliminary results, shortage of foreign exchange has now been specified as their main impediment to business and investment,” Barker said.
“We undertake this survey every five years. And in previous surveys, law and order, corruption, poor transport infrastructure and power generation topped the list as the main impediments, followed by telecommunications, lack of trained staff and so on.
“This time, those other issues are all up there as major ongoing concerns, but slightly ahead is the issue of foreign exchange availability.”
Barker said the ongoing shortage had adverse impacts on a range of operators in various sectors, and was not limited to importers.
“Lack of ready access to foreign exchange has impacted the overall business cycle, not just for importers, but also for all other businesses dependent in part upon imported inputs for their manufacturing, transport and even agriculture, as well as households and service providers, including for essential services, needing medicines, vaccines, and other products required
in hospitals and other health facilities.”
He noted that some businesses were better placed than others in terms of sourcing foreign exchange, enjoying strong relations with suppliers who allow longer credit periods.
“But this forex crisis has been going on for a couple of years now, and that’s stretched the capacity and relationship of even the most supportive suppliers and companies,” Barker said.