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Dollars Dry Up: Rs 5K Transfer Limit Frustrates Foreign workers



Dollars Dry Up: Rs 5K Transfer Limit Frustrates Foreign workers

In the face of a severe shortage of US dollars on the market, money changers in Mauritius are forced to reduce the transfer limit to allow as many foreign workers as possible to send money to their families back home.

For these workers, who often spend hours queuing to send money, this means increased challenges, more absences from work, and consequently, higher salary reductions.

In the scorching heat of midday on Sir William Newton Street, about two dozen foreign workers gathered outside the Ria Money Transfer office, displaying a mix of hope and frustration.

The agency has set a transfer limit of only Rs 5,000 per worker.

“I receive a monthly salary of Rs 20,000, and I send Rs 15,000 to my parents in Bangladesh.

Previously, the limit was Rs 15,000, and I could send it all in one go. But now I can only send Rs 5,000 in one transaction per day, which forces me to make three transactions.

Sometimes I come but can’t complete the transaction and have to leave with cash,” explained a worker.

He lamented that “if the exchange rate is satisfactory, the limit implies that I must take several days off to come and queue, and the agency charges me three times for the three transactions. Moreover, my employer reduces my salary for the days I’m absent.”

The lack of US dollars on the market is creating a complex situation for agencies like Ria Money Transfer.

“When a foreign worker are bringing in rupees to transfer to Bangladesh, we have to convert that money into dollars, which are then sent to Ria International. The international agency then sends the received amount to the worker’s family in taka,” explained a Ria Money Transfer official.

“Our lack of US dollars means that if we don’t set a low limit for transactions, only about ten people can transfer as much money as they want. To find a middle ground and not penalize foreign workers, we limit transactions to Rs 5,000 and allow as many workers as possible to transfer some money home. We also ensure that no one can make more than three transactions per month,” he added.

This situation also led to higher costs for foreign workers when transferring money.

According to standard rules set by Ria International, for a transfer of Rs 15,000, fees of Rs 190 are charged, while for a transfer of Rs 5,000, the fee is Rs 140.

“These fees are split between three agencies – in Mauritius, within Ria International, and in Bangladesh.”

For Bangladeshi workers, this means they now have to pay a total of Rs 420 for three transactions instead of Rs 190 for one transaction.

To ensure they can at least make one transfer without suffering salary reductions from their employer “the best thing is to queue up in front of the agency at night, sleep here overnight and be among the first people to use the service in the morning before going to work,” said one worker.

This situation also is also posing security problems for foreign workers who are already subjected to exploitation and abuse in Mauritius.

“Cases have been reported where foreign workers had to return to their dormitories or sleep outside bank offices with their hard-earned money and were attacked by robbers or drug addicts,” said Faisal Ally Beegun, a trade unionist and advocate for foreign workers.

“Workers using systems like bank cards when queuing to send money are confronted with hurtful and xenophobic comments from many Mauritians…

The ideal solution would be for banks and money changers with the means to strengthen security to visit workplaces twice a month and help these workers make their transfers.”

Source: l’Express

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