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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Postpones Dollar Ban

KIEV -- Ukrainian authorities has postponed a proposed ban on the use of hard currency in shops as it was premature pending a stabilization of the post-Soviet economy, a government minister said.

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk told national television Friday that ministers had asked President Leonid Kuchma to postpone the move, due to have gone into effect on Saturday. Kuchma agreed and asked the Central Bank to put it off.

"This is now the position of the government and its prime minister. It is premature to ban the use of foreign currency in shops," said Pynzenyk, the main force behind Ukraine's reforms.

"Our citizens can remain calm about their dollars. No one has taken them away and no one intends to do so now."

He said a three-year plunge of the interim currency, the karbovanets, had taught people to keep savings in dollars and "too little time has passed for people to think otherwise."

Unian news agency quoted Central Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko in Washington as saying he had issued an order to postpone the measure. A CentralBank spokesman had earlier said the ban would be enforced from Saturday.

The bank announced last year that starting on Feb. 18, stores selling goods and services for hard currency would have to switch to using the Ukrainian karbovanets.

About 1,300 commercial firms, with an annual turnover of about $150 million, are licensed to operate in hard currenc the Central Bank said.

But Pynzenyk and other officials have said Ukraine should move closer to stability before making the change, intended to strengthen public confidence in the currency. A full-fledged currency, the hryvna, is to be introduced this year.