Uzbek Central Bank Devalues Currency For Second Time In Three Days

TASHKENT — Uzbekistan’s central bank has devalued its national currency, the som, against the U.S. dollar and euro for the second time in three days.

The bank said on April 15 that as of April 16, $1 will cost 10,121 soms, which is some 4.4 percent weaker, or 428 soms higher, than the rate on April 14.

It added that the rate for the euro will be 11,111.8 soms, almost 5 percent down from its April 14 value.

This move comes on the heels of an April 13 weakening of the rate, and is a surprise to some analysts, since rates are usually fixed by the central bank in Uzbekistan for at least one week.

The country has locked down all of its provinces and some major cities as it looks to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Health officials said that as of April 15, 582 people had been infected with the virus, three of whom have died.

Meanwhile, the country’s economy is faltering amid a plunge in energy prices. Uzbekistan relies on gas exports and remittances from millions of Uzbeks working in Russia, a major oil exporter. That flow of funds has been choked by the impact of the pandemic on the global economy coupled with a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The bank said earlier that remittances into Central Asia’s most populous country of 32 million dropped by 23 percent in March.

In recent days, currency exchange points have started selling foreign currencies for prices higher than fixed by the central bank.

A drop in the value of the Russian ruble and Kazakh tenge following the abrupt oil-price plunge in recent weeks has also affected Uzbekistan’s currency market, the bank said.

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