As Vanuatu citizens and residents return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, banks and foreign exchange companies say they do have enough vatu to meet the demand for foreign currency exchange.
However, some companies say at times, the strong demand for vatu has exceeded their daily exchange allowances.
Western Union Vanuatu had issued a statement on social media stating it did not have enough vatu for returning Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers wanting to exchange their New Zealand dollars.
But the company has since clarified this statement saying they just had daily cash limits on exchange to vatu from foreign money.
A spokesperson from Western Union Vanuatu says, “The cash limit each day is VT10 million.”
She says, “Many of the RSE workers come in with huge amounts of money to change and that is not possible because the exchange of foreign money is based on our cash limit.”
Western Union says the daily limit does not mean they have run out of vatu and those wanting to exchange larger amounts of foreign money can return the next day.
The National Bank of Vanuatu would not comment on the issue and said only that its services were operating normally.
The ANZ Bank says it has no problem with cash flow.
VBTC tried to contact other banks for their response but they did not provide comment.
One returned RSE worker told VBTC, “ We went to Goodies Forex and could only change half of our money because their cash supply was not enough.”
Other RSE workers said they had also experienced insufficient cash exchanges at other foreign exchange companies.
The exchange rate of Bred Bank Vanuatu from Australian dollar is VT78.18, from New Zealand dollar is VT72.06 and from US dollar is VT111.44.
The ANZ Bank exchange rate for Australian dollar is VT77.01, for New Zealand dollar is VT71.35 and for US dollar is VT111.46.
The National Bank exchange rate for Australian dollar is VT78.45, for New Zealand dollar is VT72.24 and for US dollar is VT111.40.
The Bank South Pacific exchange rate for Australian dollar is VT77.72, for New Zealand dollar is VT 0.0000 and for US dollar is VT110.79.
These rates change daily.
The Governor of Reserve Bank Simeon Athy says, “Foreign money coming into Vanuatu is a good thing because it helps the economy to grow.”
He says, “The foreign currency the seasonal workers are bringing in will end up here at the Reserve Bank and other banks and through [our] banking systems which is really good [for our economy].”
“When the seasonal workers change the foreign money to vatu, the money is then spent on many things such as education, improving houses and helping their families,” Mr Athy says.
“This is a positive activity because we are talking about a big number of seasonal workers spending money inside the country.
“We must not forget the tourism sector is another form of foreign exchange and it has rapidly gone down due the lock-down of our borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
More than 8000 Ni-Vanuatu are working in Australia and New Zealand under Labour Mobility Scheme.