SBP cuts limits on travelling cash.

KARACHI -- The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has halved the cash-carrying limits on foreign currency for international travel to $5,000 (or equivalent in other foreign currencies) per visit and $30,000 per year for citizens aged 18 years or above, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Both ceilings will be half for under-18s (minors), i.e. $2,500 per visit and $15,000 per year.

However, for people travelling to Afghanistan, the limit for taking out cash foreign currencies will remain unchanged at $1,000 per visit and $6,000 per year.

The same annual limit - i.e. $30,000 - now also applies to international transactions through debit and credit cards.

Separately, the SBP and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have decided to team up against illegal foreign exchange operators - those that aren't authorised by the central bank to do this business - to curb speculation and the grey market.

The central bank said the per-visit limits for travel cash would be applicable immediately, whereas the annual limits would go into effect from Jan 1, 2023.

Besides, the SBP observed that debit and credit cards were being used for transactions that 'are not aligned with the profile of the individual or are intended for commercial purpose' and therefore prescribed an annual limit of $30,000 on international transactions.

It advised banks to 'ensure that the use of debit and credit cards for international transactions was aligned with the profile of cardholders and for their personal needs only'.

'It is emphasised that the purpose of debit/credit cards is to facilitate individuals in making payments for transactions that are of personal nature. The limits on these cards as well as payments through them, both domestic and international, should therefore be aligned with the profile of the cardholder,' it said.

'It shall be the responsibility of a customer to ensure that his/her annual limit is not breached at any time. However, banks are required to monitor these limits on a consolidated basis for each individual,' it said.

As for using cards for cross-border transactions to meet 'legitimate business-related needs', the SBP said a framework was already available under Para 14A of Chapter 14 of the Foreign Exchange Manual, under which entities could designate a bank to use this facility according to defined limits.

'Besides, a general framework for the acquisition of services by firms and companies has been given in Para...

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