Banks reduce forex sales as scarcity persists

Marcus Amudipe
Marcus Amudipe

Findings have revealed that Banks have started to limit Personal Travel Allowance and Business Travel Allowance clearance requests to legitimate users.

According to The PUNCH, legitimate users will be able to access forex only once in two quarters.

Before this new development, the banks had been approving travellers who applied once every quarter.

Findings revealed that the development arose due to the lingering forex scarcity in the financial system.

First Bank said in a mail to its customers on ‘Updates on FX purchase’ that “The full Personal Travel Allowance and Business Travel Allowance ($4,000 and $5,000) respectively will now be disbursed into your FirstBank Travel Card. All applications will be in line with regulatory requirements.

“Kindly ensure that all PTA/BTA applications along with the approved Form A are submitted at the branch exactly 14 days before your proposed travel date. Sales are limited to two quarters a year.”

A member of the Monetary Policy Committee, Prof. Mike Obadan, said in his statement released by the Central Bank of Nigeria after the last Monetary Policy Committee that access to forex was a challenge.

He said, “On the part of the monetary authority, there is no doubt that it is in a difficult situation because of excess demand for foreign exchange in the face of a rather uncomfortable foreign exchange supply situation.

“In the context of foreign exchange management, there is a need for a critical review of the structure of forex demand for invisible payments abroad to identify the unessential elements for rationalization.

“Some analysts have rightly wondered why the Bank should, for example, continue to provide foreign exchange to fund primary, secondary, and undergraduate education abroad in an era of serious forex shortage. Many public schools are indeed in bad shape.

“But there are many good private schools at the primary, secondary, and university education levels. If parents are willing to fund the very expensive foreign education, it will be far cheaper for them to educate the children in the most expensive and good private schools in Nigeria.”

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, earlier in the year, announced the bank would stop the sale of foreign exchange to Deposit Money Banks by the end of 2022.

It had earlier stopped forex allocation to the Bureau de Change operators in 2021.

The CBN governor launched its program tagged ‘RT200 FX Programme’ to boost forex supply in the country through the non-oil sector in the next three to five years.

“The RT200 FX Programme is a set of policies, plans, and programs for non-oil exports that will enable us to attain our lofty yet attainable goal of $200bn in FX repatriation, exclusively from non-oil exports, over the next three to five years,” he said.

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