CBN Unveils New Forex Policy Actions
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
In a bid to ease the huge pressure on the Naira at the foreign exchange market, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released new policy actions aimed at achieving this goal.
In recent times, the Naira has performed woefully against the Dollar, exchanging at N522 per Dollar at the moment.
In the new policy, the apex bank said it 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.
The CBN said it expects such retail transactions to be settled at a “rate not exceeding 20 percent above the interbank market rate,” which presently stands at N305.50k per Dollar.
The CBN explained that it took this step in continuation of efforts to increase the availability of forex in order to ease the difficulties encountered by Nigerians in obtaining funds for transactions.
The bankers’ bank said having cleared the historic backlog of matured letters of credit at the inception of the current flexible exchange rate system, it 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,” it said in a statement issued on Monday by its spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor.
In addition, the statement said 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.
It promised to ensure this process is as smooth as possible and that as many customers as possible get the foreign exchange they genuinely demand, noting that 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,” the statement said.
The apex further said that in order to further increase the availability of foreign exchange to all end-users, it 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 and pointed out that as way of further easing the burden of travellers and ensure that transactions are settled at much more competitive exchange rates, it has directed all banks to open FX retail outlets at major airports as soon as logistics permit.
Also, the CBN said it will immediately begin implementing its articulated program to clear all the unfilled orders in the interbank FX market; give its plan to meet all unfilled orders, and while provision of FX to the manufacturing sector would remain its strong priority, and will no longer impose allocation/utilization rules on commercial banks.
The apex bank further it will implement an effective intervention programme to support the inter-bank market to ensure adequate liquidity necessary to deliver an efficient FX market; advise FMDQ to activate its FX Order-Book systems as soon as possible and also accelerate the on-boarding of FX clients on the FX Relationship Systems to ensure total transparency of the FX market.
“Given the CBN’s objective to continuously and vigorously pursue a transparent, liquid, and efficient 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,” CBN said in the statement.
The apex urged market participants to assist in ensuring that these new measures engender the preservation of Nigeria’s external reserves, stability of the country’s financial system, and growth of the nation’s economy to the benefit of all Nigerians.