The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has resumed the provision of foreign exchange to banks to enable parents to pay for school fees and to allow Small and Medium Enterprises to make essential imports.
This was announced in a statement by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor in Abuja.
“In view of the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown both globally and in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has resumed provision of foreign exchange to all commercial banks for onward sales to parents wishing to pay school fees and SMEs wishing to make essential imports needed to revamp economic activities across the country,” the statement read in part.
Based on the decision, the Central Bank will provide over US$100 million to banks.
In addition to the supply of dollars for the payment of school fees and essential imports by SME’s, the CBN says it has also “made complete arrangements to resume foreign exchange sales to the BDC segment of the market for business travels, personal travels, and other designated retail uses, as soon as international flights resume”.
This comes two days after President Muhammdu Buhari announced that there would be a phased easing of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital territory from Monday, May 4. The five-week lockdown was imposed to help halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The CBN’s decision also follows a decline in the value of the naira with the currency going for above 460 per dollar on the parallel market.
The country’s top bank, however, stressed that there is no need for panic or a resort to patronising illegitimate sources of foreign exchange as it is meeting dollar needs by end-users.
“With these actions, the CBN wishes to reiterate that it is adequately meeting the needs of all legitimate users, and our continued capacity to do so should not be in doubt,” the statement said.
“There is, therefore, no need for panic by an end-user that could necessitate recourse to illegitimate sources and spike in foreign exchange rates.”
To complement the measures in place, the bank plans to go after speculators and launch a crackdown on illegal activities in the foreign exchange market.
“Given this, the Bank has ramped up its surveillance of the foreign exchange markets for speculators, smugglers, and other illegal users, and will take decisive actions against anyone/institutions involved in such nefarious activities,” the CBN added.