UPDATE 1-Bank of Ghana tightens foreign exchange rules to stem currency slide
* Bank scraps transfers between accounts in foreign currency
* Currency depreciated nearly 20 pct in 2013 (Adds quote, background)
ACCRA Feb 5 (Reuters) - Ghana's central bank on Wednesday tightened rules on the operation of foreign currency denominated accounts to try to stem currency depreciation, Governor Henry Kofi Wampah told Reuters.
The measures to be implemented immediately require foreign exchange purchased for the settlement of import bills to be lodged in a special margin account that must be drawn within 30 days, according to details of the rules seen by Reuters.
In addition, the bank has scrapped transfers between accounts denominated in a foreign currency. It also directed that proceeds from exports should be converted into the cedi currency within five working days.
"These rules are intended to streamline the operations of these accounts and bring about clarity and transparency in their operations. We also believe they will significantly help in our ongoing measures to stabilise the cedi," Wampah said by telephone.
Pressure on the cedi is due to demand for dollars in an economy where imports are running high. The cedi depreciated nearly 20 percent in 2013 and has fallen a further 4.7 percent this year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The regulator also prohibits the granting of a foreign currency denominated loan or foreign currency linked facility to a customer who is not a foreign exchange earner.
Cash withdrawals over the counter from foreign currency denominated accounts shall only be permitted for travel outside Ghana and shall not exceed $10,000 or its equivalent, per person, per trip, the Bank said. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Alison Williams)
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