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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus bans hard currencies

MINSK -- The Belarussian government, which until recently was pressing for monetary union with the Russian ruble, has banned the use of foreign currency in all cash and domestic transactions.

The ban was one of several dozen measures presented to senior government ministers Tuesday as part of a reform plan approved by parliament earlier this month.

The move coincided with a similar ban in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.

It makes the Belarussian ruble the sole means of payment in retail trade by the end of the year.

"The government has to move reform forward. For a year we waited for the crisis to end and for a year we waited for the Russian ruble," Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ling said.

Russia approved a similar move earlier this year, outlawing the common practice of many shops to quote prices in dollars or other convertible currencies. Ukraine, the third major Slav former Soviet republic, has yet to do so.

Belarus's first post-Soviet government lobbied for monetary union with the Russian ruble.

But central banks in both countries dismissed the arrangement as unworkable and President Alexander Lukashenko has dropped the proposal since his election in July.

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov on Tuesday also banned the use of foreign currency in domestic transactions from Oct. 15.

All payments and settlements in the central Asian state will be carried out in soms, the Uzbek currency. Private individuals and legal entities were recommended to open som bank accounts.

In addition, the decree said a number of measures to foster a domestic currency market would be taken, including raising the number of banks allowed to trade on the Uzbek Republic Currency Exchange. The reason is to make the national currency fully convertible within the republic.

The International Monetary Fund has pressed the Uzbek government to create incentives for people to amass savings in the som, which was introduced at the beginning of July.