THE Bank of China (BOC) plans to beef up its foreign currency reserves to cope with the possibility of rising demand under the country's currency reforms which come into effect today, says bank president Wang Xuebing. Mr Wang, who was appointed to his new job a few days ago, said BOC branches throughout the country had been asked to prepare for the gradual phasing-out of foreign exchange certificates (FECs), a separate currency created 13 years ago for foreigners in China. China announced three days ago that it would unify the two-tier yuan rates and stop issuing FECs from this year, but would withdraw them from circulation gradually. FECs will continue to be honoured by banks until they are fully withdrawn from circulation. Mr Wang was quoted in the China Daily as saying the FEC withdrawal would have a wide-ranging impact on the economy and that foreign exchange reforms would be given top priority. BOC - the country's foreign exchange bank - has also set up a task force to help strengthen its role in the exchange reforms. Some departments have already established special divisions to do the preparatory work. Mr Wang said the bank would map out detailed management regulations on the reforms and send them to local branches soon. And to ensure that things will function smoothly under the new currency regime, the BOC has summoned local bank officials responsible for accounting, settlement and foreign exchange savings for a two-day training course in Beijing, which ends today.