The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday said Nigeria should lift its remaining foreign exchange restrictions and scrap its system of multiple exchange rates to revive the country’s recession-hit economy.
The IMF’s verdict comes weeks after the budget ministry published its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan for 2017 to 2020 which called for a market-determined exchange rate. However, the plan offers few concrete steps.
Nigeria as a country has at least five exchange rates which include the official one, a rate for pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia or Israel, one for school fees abroad and a retail rate set by licensed exchange bureaux.
IMF also forecast that Africa’s largest economy would grow 0.8 percent this year. The outlook came in the Washington-based fund’s Article IV consultation, which is a regular assessment of a country’s economy. This is even as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday said Nigeria should lift its remaining foreign exchange restrictions and scrap its system of multiple exchange rates to revive the country’s recession-hit economy.
Meanwhile, in continuation of its efforts to sustain liquidity in the foreign exchange market, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has increased weekly forex sales to each Bureaux de Change (BDC) to $10,000.
The CBN in a statement by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said it wishes to inform market participants and the general public that it will commence twice weekly forex sales to BDCs from Monday, April 3, 2017.
It further stated that licensed BDC operators are required to fund their accounts with the CBN on Mondays and Wednesdays, while they receive their purchases on Tuesdays and Thursdays respectively.
“The sale amount to BDCs is hereby increased to $10,000 weekly ($5,000 per bid) and a new rate will be announced on Monday, April 3, 2017”, it stated.
The apex bank has reviewed downward the rate at which it was selling dollars to Bureau De Change (BDC) operators nationwide.
The CBN through Travelex last year, cut the amount of dollars sold to BDC operators in the country from $15,000 to $8,000 per week. It is understood that this move is to enable more BDC operators across the country have access to foreign exchange.
But reacting to this development, Chairman, South West Zone, Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Mr. Taiwo Ebenezer, said operators are yet to receive any circular relating to the increase
According to him, “we have not received circular from CBN that the foreign exchange allocation has been increased.”
All effort to reach the Association president, Mr. Aminu Gwadabe prove abortive as he did not respond to several phone calls and Short Message Service (SMS) sent to his phone number.
CBN this week had crashed the rate at which it sells foreign exchange to BDCs to N360. The CBN also directed the BDCs to sell to end users at not more than N362/$1.
Okorafor had explained that the objective of the new foreign exchange sale policy was to ensure a convergence of the rates in the interbank and BDC, stressing that the CBN remained committed to ensuring transparency in the market as well as fairness to end-users, many of who hitherto experienced challenges in accessing foreign exchange.
He therefore urged licensed BDCs to play by the rule, cautioning that the CBN would not hesitate in sanctioning any erring dealer.