Ethiopian revenue authorities have disclosed an increase in the incidence of foreign currency smuggling through its main airport, the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) said it was putting in place measures to curtail the worrying trend. They added that the efforts at clamping down on currency smuggling had also yielded results in the area of minerals smuggling.
A recent example cited by ERCA was when a Chinese national attempted to smuggle over $350,000 out of the country to Saudi Arabia via the airport. They also related how an Ethiopian – born U.S. national was detained for trying to fly out with $28,600.
Mulugeta Beyene, an ERCA toip official confirmed to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate that over the last two weeks, several amounts of foreign and local currencies were seized at the airport.
The authority intercepted an audacious attempt to take out 4 million US dollars via the airport in 2016.
According to current directives of the central bank, National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), passengers are allowed to carry cash of up to 1,000 Ethiopian birr.
In the case of forex rules, passengers are only allowed to enter or leave the country with a maximum of $3,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currencies without a permit. They are required to notify the authorities if they are carrying an amount that exceeds the threshold.
The NBE in October announced a devaluation of the country’s currency, the birr by 15%. Along with the devaluation which is the first since 2010, interest rates on deposits were pushed up to 7% from the previous 5%.
The measure is seen by economic players as helping to boost the growth of the country’s export sector which has experienced a sluggish outlook. It is also expected to reduce forex shortages and to ease debt burden.