The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said Wednesday that it would enhance foreign exchange (forex) allocations to banks in order to satisfy the needs of clients, particularly travelers, who require forex for travel allowances, tuition and medical costs, among other things.
The steps came after the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, warned managing directors of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) not to refuse customers, particularly travelers, the option to purchase forex for Personal Travel Allowance in a weekend meeting (PTA) Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proceeds.
In a message, the CBN’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, confirmed the discussions at the meeting of bank chiefs, saying that the CBN remained committed to ensuring liquidity in the FX market to fulfill genuine and legitimate client needs.
He added: “The CBN agreed to increase the amount allocated to banks for travellers, 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.”
Fears of a forex scarcity were allayed by Nwanisobi, who invited members of the public to purchase foreign exchange from their banks for PTA, BTA, university fees, or medical bills.
“We wish to assure members of the public that the CBN shall continue to monitor market developments and is committed to ensuring an efficient FX market for all legitimate users,” he said.
He, however, advised “customers to approach their customer service representatives of their designated banks should they encounter challenges, adding that they could escalate complaints to the CBN via the bank’s toll-free line: 07002255226 or send an email to email@example.com if their requests are not met.”
According to sources at the meeting with bank CEOs intended to address the difficulty clients have in getting forex from their banks, Emefiele warned that the CBN would deal with any bank that denies clients the ability to buy foreign currency for lawful causes.
According to the source, the CBN management disapproved of the apparent difficulty consumers had in obtaining foreign exchange through banks, particularly for Invisibles such as PTA and demands for tuition and healthcare.
Last week, Emefiele reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to maintaining constant foreign exchange availability for manufacturers.
Emefiele also asked banks and Nigerians to work together to reduce pollution and secure the survival of banking fundamentals.
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