CBN gets tough on forex hoarders

THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed determination to punish commercial banks and other dealers who are seen to sabotage efforts aimed at making life easier for foreign exchange end users.

One of the banks with strong foreign connection was actually fined about N1.5 billion recently for flouting foreign exchange regulations.

This is as the apex bank is again set to further inject more foreign exchange market with a view to ensuring liquidity in the interbank market and leading to a further of the dollar early this week.

This is in addition to the further increase in the sale of dollars to the Bureaux de change operators from $8,000 to $10, 0000 dollars per week.

The latest information about the action of the apex bank, which became clear at the weekend, seems to have calmed the earlier apprehension over the ability of the CBN to sustain the intervention.

Confirming, the intention of the apex bank to inject additional foreign exchange into the system to newsmen in Abuja during the weekend, Okorafor, said that the CBN was determined to sustain the provision of liquidity in the foreign exchange market in order to enhance accessibility and affordability for genuine end users.

Acting Director of Communication at the apex bank, Isaac Okorafor stated that CBN has received complaints from customers over frustrations which they were meant to go through in getting foreign exchange for invisible items like tuition fee, medicals, personal and basic travel allowance.

The Bank urged the general public to report to it any bank that fails meet customers’ needs after due documentation.

It once again reiterated its determination to deal with any official or institution found to be sabotaging the operations of foreign exchange market in whatever guise.

Meanwhile, data from Thailand Farmers Association available to Nigerian Tribune has revealed that rice export to Nigeria declined from 644,131 tons in 2015 to 58,260 tons by the end of 2016 and in the first two months of 2017, 6,594 tons were imported.

At the same time, rice export to Benin Republic increased from 805,765 tons in 2015 to 1,421,050 in 2016.

And the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) believes that this is one of the several reasons that external forces are collaborating with their internal collaborators to fight the bank and discredit its top officials.

Okorafor who spoke with our correspondent on Sunday confirmed that billions have been saved since a number of 41 items were removed from official foreign exchange eligibility list.

According to him, many of the items on the list were now being manufactured in Nigeria like toothpicks with a factory in Ondo State.

He explained that aside conserving scarce foreign exchange at a time like this, scores of thousands of Nigerians have been moved out of poverty and rapidly becoming wealthy with the opportunities being created by various agriculture as well as small and medium enterprises initiated since the list of the 41 items were announced.

A bank source also recalled a visit to the CBN Governor by a delegation of a European nation canvassing that stock fish be removed from the list of items not eligible for import with official allocation of foreign exchange.

“That is why they are fighting us”, the source insisted, arguing that it was the reason why those who have hoarded dollars” are insisting that we should completely float the currency but Nigerians and the economy will suffer.”

The source confirmed that some officials of the bank were indeed interrogated by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but added that even in 2016; some officials of the bank were invited by the anti-corruption agency but after investigations.

“The easiest way to destroy reputation in Nigeria today is to write petitions to EFCC and leak it to the media. That is all it takes. Nobody is interested whether it eventually turns out frivolous or with substance”, the source indicated.

The source further disclosed that recent appreciation of the naira caused panic among those who expected the currency to deteriorate to at least N1000/US$ and that is the reason that they renewed their attack on CBN in the belief that President Buhari will see the EFCC petition as reason to remove the Governor.


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