The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) closed on Monday five currency exchange bureaus in an attempt to regulate the market, halving the number of licensed operating bureaus in the country.
According to data on the CBE website, there are 94 licensed currency exchange bureaus.
Citing an anonymous official from the bank, state news agency MENA reported on Monday that 47 of all bureaus have been so far shut down. Of the currency exchange bureaus closed, a total of 26 have been closed permanently and their licences revoked. The rest of the bureaus are shut for six, eight or twelve months, according to their violations.
In June, the country's cabinet approved prison sentences for individuals breaking the foreign exchange law, with jail terms ranging from six months to three years and fines ranging between EGP 1 million to EGP 5 million.
The cabinet also granted the central bank governor the power to suspend any exchange bureau's license for a year in case of any infraction and to impose a similar fine. Repeat offenders can have their licenses permanently revoked.
The CBE has kept the pound steady at 8.78 pounds against the since a 13.5 percent devaluation in March.
Further depreciation in the pound's value is expected since the central bank governor Tarek Amer said in July that defending the pound over the past five years was a “grave mistake,”
Egypt, which relies heavily on imports to support its 91-million population, has been suffering from an acute shortage of the US currency in the wake of 2011 uprising which was followed by political and security unrests that has turned away tourists and foreign investors, two major sources of hard currency.