THE Central Bank of Nigeria has taken some major steps in its efforts to increase the availability of Foreign Exchange and difficulties encountered by Nigerians in obtaining funds for Foreign Exchange transactions. According to a press release signed by Isaac Okorafor acting Director, Corporate communications, the CBN “is providing direct additional funding to banks to meet the needs of Nigerians for Personal and Business Travel, Medical needs, and School fees, effective immediately.”
Besides, “the CBN expects such retail transactions to be settled at a rate not exceeding 20 percent above the interbank market rate.”
The bank said after clearing the historic backlog of matured letters of credit at the inception of the current flexible exchange rate system, the CBN would immediately begin to provide foreign exchange to all commercial banks to meet the needs of both personal travel allowances, PTA, and business travel allowances, BTA, for onward sale to customers. All banks would receive amounts commensurate with their demand per week, which would be sold to customers who meet usual basic documentary requirements.
“Similarly, the CBN would meet the needs of parents, guardians and sponsors who are seeking to make payments of school and educational fees for their children and wards. Such payments must be made by commercial banks directly to the institution specified by the customer. The CBN would ensure that this process is as smooth as possible and that as many customers as possible get the foreign exchange they genuinely demand. This would also apply to customers seeking to make payments, or purchase foreign exchange, for medical bills and paid directly to hospitals. The supply of FX to retail end-users (PTA, BTA, School fees, medical bills, etc) would be sustained by the CBN.
“In order to further increase the availability of foreign exchange to all end-users, the CBN has decided to significantly reduce the tenor of its forward sales from the current maximum cycle of 180 days, to no more than 60 days from the date of transaction.
“In order to further ease the burden of travellers’ and ensure that transactions are settled at much more competitive exchange rates, the CBN hereby directs all banks to open FX retail outlets at major airports as soon as logistics permit,” the statement said.
Besides, for the bank to maintain confidence in the foreign exchange market, it said it would immediately begin implementing its articulated program to clear all the unfilled orders in the interbank exchange market; it would no longer impose allocation/utilisation rules on commercial banks; implement an effective intervention programme to support the inter-bank market to ensure adequate liquidity necessary to deliver an efficient foreign exchange market; advise FMDQ to activate its foreign exchange order-book systems as soon as possible and also accelerate the on-boarding of foreign exchange clients on the exchange relationship systems to ensure total transparency of the exchange market.
“Given the CBN’s objective to continuously and vigorously pursue a transparent, liquid, and efiiificient FX Market, the Bank reiterates it would neither tolerate unscrupulous actions nor hesitate to bring serious sanctions on offenders, be they banks or their staff. The Bank therefore encourages market participants to assist in ensuring that these new measures engender the preservation of our external reserves, stability of our financial system, and growth of our economy to the benefit of all Nigerians,” Okorafor said.
— Feb 20, 2017 @ 18:10 GMT