The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it is set to increase foreign exchange allocation to banks to enable them to meet their customers’ requests for travel allowances, tuition, and medical fees, among others.
The apex bank also promised to support bank customers with forex for Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proceeds.
This followed a warning issued by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at a meeting with the Managing Directors of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) where he asked them to stop denying customers, especially travelers, the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
Emefiele warned that the CBN would severely deal with any bank that denied customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange for legitimate purposes.
The CBN management at the meeting complained about the difficulties customers experienced in accessing foreign exchange through their respective DMBs, particularly for Invisibles such as PTA and requests bordering on tuition and healthcare needs.
The financial regulator threatened to release several hotlines for aggrieved customers to report any bank that fails to sell foreign exchange to them even when they have provided the required documentation.
Confirming the discussions at the meeting, the acting Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, said that the CBN 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 (SMEs) 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.”