NIGERIANS travelling abroad for holidays can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 worth of foreign exchange from the banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recent decision to increase the amount.
In what appears to be a relaxation of the tight foreign restrictions of the government, the CBN has also increased the rate for those travelling on business trips, allowing them to access a maximum amount of $5,000. As part of this new regime, the CBN has concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks.
Recently, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, warned banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange. He added that the access to foreign exchange was for things that include personal travel allowance (PTA), basic travel allowance (BTA), tuition fees, medical payments as well as small and medium enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of foreign direct investment proceeds.
A CBN Bankers’ Committee spokesman said: “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market. So what the Central Bank of Nigeria is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank. What we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the central bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down.”
Access Bank managing director Herbert Wigwe, added: “I think again as part of the central bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses.”
Abubakar Suleiman, Sterling Bank’s managing director, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.