The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned banks’ managing directors yesterday that any Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) that denies travellers and other foreign exchange (forex) users access to dollars will be punished.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele cautioned chief executives of the banks to desist from denying customers, particularly travellers, access to foreign exchange for Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), tuition fees and medical payments.
He also warned that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) must not be denied transactions for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proceeds.
The CBN chief said it will be raising the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet the requests of customers.
Based on the CBN guidelines, a company can buy up to $5,000 BTA per quarter while an individual is entitled to $4,000 PTA per quarter.
The sources disclosed that the CBN Management frowned at the seeming difficulty customers experienced in accessing foreign exchange through their respective DMBs, particularly for invisibles such as PTA and requests bordering on tuition and healthcare needs frowned at complaints.
The sources further hinted that the CBN may release several hotlines for aggrieved customers to report any bank that failed to sell forex to them even when they have provided required documentations.
Confirming the discussions, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, said the apex bank remained committed to ensuring liquidity in the foreign exchange market to meet genuine and legitimate demands of customers.
He said: “The CBN agreed to increase the amount allocated to banks for travelers, Small and Medium Enterprises among others.
The banks also agreed to operate something akin to foreign exchange imprest account such that the coffers of banks will be replenished so long as they retire the initial amounts to the satisfaction of the CBN.”
Nwanisobi urged interested members of the public seeking to purchase foreign exchange for PTA, BTA, payment of tuition fees or medical fees to approach their respective banks for that purpose.
CBN warns banks over foreign exchange malpractices
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has insisted that the FX operating license of any bank or banks that are found guilty of ongoing investigations in foreign exchange malpractices would be suspended for at least a year.
The circular signed today by the Director Trade and Exchange Department, CBN, Ozoemena Nnaji stated: “In line with the continuing close surveillance of our financial markets in general and the FX market in particular, the CBN wishes to remind all banks that it is their responsibility to not only Know their Customers (KYC requirements) but also Know their customers’ business (KYCB requirements).
“Given these responsibilities and in view of recent occurrences in the market, the CBN would like to remind banks to desist from all and any forms of FX malpractices.
“We wish to reiterate that the FX operating license of any bank or banks that are found culpable with ongoing investigations would be suspended for at least one year. Please note and ensure compliance.”
Naira hits historic low of 543 against dollar
The naira has continued to depreciate on the parallel market, selling for N543 to the dollar on Thursday.
The bureau de change operators in Abuja bought dollar at N540, then it was sold for N543.
The British Pound was also sold for £1/N740.
This comes 44 days after the Central Bank of Nigeria barred sale of Forex to all bureau de change operators across the country.
On June 27, 2021, the CBN ended the sales of Forex to BDCs saying the parallel market had become a conduit for illicit Forex flows and graft.
The CBN said it would also no longer process applications for BDC licences in the country.