LC booking, money transfer services resume

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, February 8:

With the resumption of telephone and Internet services, bankers and money transfer agencies have heaved a sigh of relief, as pending jobs of issuing letter of credit (LC) and money transfer could restart after a weeklong disruption.

“Issuance of the letters of credit to businessmen, particularly importers, has remained inoperative for the last seven days,” said an official at NIC Bank, New Road Branch. But all the pending jobs resumed from early today and work has returned to normalcy. The official also informed that NIC Bank issues about 10-15 LCs everyday, especially for importers for importing various products from abroad. “The service was disrupted due to stoppage of ISD calls over the last seven days,” he said.

Echoing him, a Nepal Investment Bank official also conceded that issuance of LC and SWIFT transfers were disrupted during the communication stoppage, leaving a number of LC issuance and SWIFT transfer pending.

“We had no option. We explained our customers about our difficulty and situation,” he said, adding that services have been resumed. Traders and businessmen have to open LC at commercial banks while importing goods from abroad. However, these banks were not able to issue any LC in the last seven days, which reportedly has caused heavy losses both to businessmen and the banks. The banks issue LC as required and in different currencies, mostly in US dollar, Euro, Indian currency, Singapore dollar and Swiss Franc. “Everybody has to bear with the situation. If it is for a good cause, then we should support it,” said a senior official at Himalayan Bank Ltd. Though the services were disrupted, it has come back to normal from today. Not only commercial banks were compelled to hold back their LC issuance and SWIFT transfer services, but money transfer agencies that entirely depend on web-based Internet services for remitting money, were also constrained to carry out their regular business. “Business in the last seven days was nil, as we solely depend upon Internet-based software” said an official of CG Finco, an authorised agent of Western Union Money Transfer Inc for Nepal. The official also informed that Nepalis working and living abroad can transfer money using the Western Union Money Transfer service instantly from 190 countries and territories globally. The company helps remit about $60,000 daily from various parts of the world.

“But we couldn’t transact a single penny during those days, since internet and ISD calls were disrupted,” he said. He, however, declined to comment on the losses incurred.

Although the disruption in telecom and Internet services resulted in problems for banks, traders, money transfer agencies and freight forwarders, the situation was a compulsion, a trader told The Himalayan Times. “We certainly face problems, but we should also understand the problems being faced by the country,” he said.