Members of the House of Representatives and Nigerians in Diaspora on Thursday protested against Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy on the conversion of multi-billion dollars remitted annually to naira, thereby losing the substantial value of the foreign currencies.
The Secretary, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mr Sule Bassey expressed the concern during an investigative hearing into the Diaspora remittances from January 2016 to December 2019, held at the instance of House Committee on Diaspora chaired by Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe who frowned at the inefficiency of the CBN’s Department of Statistics.
While the lawmakers queried the loss of $36.6 as chargeable fees on every $200 remitted through official International Monetary Transfer Organisations (IMTOs) licensed by the apex bank as well as inactivity of 50 out of the 65 licensed IMTOs to transfer forex to Nigeria, Mr.Bassey alleged that Nigerians in Diaspora lose between 18 to 20 per cent of the actual value of foreign currency remitted into the country.
Mr. Bassey also unveiled the Commission’s plans for the establishment of the Diaspora Investment Trust Fund initiative and management of labour migration partnership with countries with the view to annex growth through Diaspora remittances.
According to him, the Commission is already working with relevant government agencies on various projects and programmes.
As stipulated in the document submitted to the Committee, as one of the top five countries in remittances around the world according to World Bank estimates, in 2016 Nigeria recorded inflow of $19,679 billion in 2017 inflows was $22,001 billion while in 2018, Nigeria received $24,356 billion.
According to the apex bank, Nigerians in the United States alone remitted total sum of $7.2 billion in 2018, more than the entire $6.7 billion allocated for 2019 capital spending.
Meanwhile, CBN disclosed that Diaspora remittances in 2015 was $21.2billion officially sent home, which surpasses the $19.6 billion proceeds from oil proceeds; $19.7 billion remitted in 2016 and $22 billion in 2017 higher than the $10.4 billion and $13.4 billion from oil exports in the same period.
The CBN annual economic report shows the total oil revenue of $18 billion in 2018 while Nigerian overseas sent home $25.1 billion in the same year.
On his part, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele who was represented by Mrs Nnaji Ozemena, CBN’s Director, Trade and Exchange, argued that about $10 billion was remitted between 2014 and to date through the IMTO.
While noting that 5,000 Bureau de Change operators (BDCOs) were licensed by the apex bank, noted that the World Bank takes account of physical cash transfers and other imported items such as cars.
The CBN Governor affirmed that the policy on the conversion of foreign currencies to naira was aimed at helping in stabilizing monetary policy, defend the naira, effective management of forex and encourage investment inflows into the country, adding that approved rate on the conversion of dollar to naira is between N355 to N357.
Also speaking, BDCs President, Mr Aminu Gwadabe called for liberalization of the policy to enable the transfer of forex by the BDCs as part of efforts aimed at ensuring growth.
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