In apparent response to recent outcry over the hardships encountered by the business community in sourcing foreign exchange for transactions, the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN has agreed to release $20 million weekly to selected 20 banks.
The body has also fixed Monday, the 20th of February for the effective takeoff of the new policy that will see each of Nigeria’s twenty top banks receiving one million dollars weekly which they are expected to sell to their customers The money is to be specifically tied to cover areas such as school fees, medicals, personal and business travels, amongst other uses.
It was gathered that this was part of the outcome of the Bankers Committee meeting held on Friday with a decision to ease access to foreign exchange.
The decision is coming on the heels of demands made by the National Economic Council NEC, in Abuja on Thursday, which after reviewing the current hardships urged the CBN to urgently find solution to the problem. NEC, a body made up of the 36 State Governors, also has the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and key ministers as members.
The Council had told the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to urgently review the country’s Foreign Exchange (FOREX) policy to also help stem the dwindling value of the Naira.
The demand was made at its meeting presided over by acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday.
Briefing State House corespondents on the outcome of the meeting, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the NEC’s position followed a briefing provided to the Council by CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The minister revealed that the apex bank’s chief pleaded for patience as he assured that something was being done. She said: “After a brief presentation on Forex Policy options by the CBN Governor, Council members generally expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate and called for an urgent review of the current Forex Policy, especially the gap between interbank and the parallel market rates.
“The CBN Governor sued for patience and understanding, assuring that the situation is being closely managed.” Huge outcry had greeted the latest free fall of the Naira which at yesterday exchanged for as much as N516 to $2 at the parallel market creating a huge gap between the official rate and the parallel market rate. This is just as the CBN sell the Naira at N305 to $1. But under the new policy, the CBN has pegged the rate at N375 to $1 to cover BTA business travel allowances and PTA Or personal travel allowance.