EghtesadOnline: July 22 was the end of a deadline set by the Central Bank of Iran for non-oil exporters to repatriate their currency earnings during the last fiscal year (March 2018-19) to the country.
After the deadline expired, figures indicate that companies have so far managed to bring back less than half of their earnings out of total exports of $40 billion, ISNA reported.
This is despite the CBI’s repeated efforts to tweak rules and offer initiatives to encourage the errant exporters to repatriate more of their overseas earnings.
According to Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand, petrochemical companies and steelmakers contributed the most to the currency repatriation scheme while other sectors were less willing to do so, Financial Tribune reported.
In light of the difficult economic conditions and shortage of foreign currency due to the new US sanctions, currency repatriation has gained special importance for the government and it is seen as partial substitute for crude oil revenues that have declined drastically over the past few months.
Rules stipulate that export earnings should be returned via one of the following ways: selling currency on Nima (Persian acronym for Integrated Forex Deal System), cash transfers through hawalah, selling to exchange bureaus, and using it to import goods and machinery either by the exporting company or a third party.
Exporters of non-petrochemical goods are obliged to sell at least half of their earnings on Nima and 20% in cash to money changers. The balance can be used for importing goods either by the exporting firm or any a third party.
Petrochemical exporters must bring back a minimum of 60% of their currency earnings and sell it via the Nima system.
Nima is a platform where exporters sell their currency earnings to companies importing non-essential goods. It logs data bout repatriated and purchased forex for import and export.
The CBI says currency repatriation has gained pace following the announcement of new rules in May. As per latest reports, exporters returned $5 billion of their earnings since the beginning of the current fiscal year on March 20.
Reflecting on possible CBI measures against exporters failing to play by the rules, Mehrdad Lahouti, the chief of Iran Export Confederation, pointed to penalties such as cancelling tax exemptions, restricting import order registrations (for those exporting companies who import raw materials), nullifying commercial cards and other forms of legal prosecution.
“It remains to be seen how the CBI will approach the issue,” Lahouti said.