By BUKOLA IDOWU, And MARK ITSIBOR,
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday readmitted some banks which it barred from the foreign exchange window earlier in the week even as it denied reports that it had reversed its ban on 41 items from accessing the official foreign exchange market.
The CBN in a statement signed by its acting director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the reports that it had reversed part of its policy on some import items ineligible for forex was false.
“We wish to state that these reports and their interpretations are wrong. The CBN has not reversed its policy on the 41 items ineligible for forex through the Nigerian forex market.
“The reports appear to be a misinterpretation of our circular titled: Revised Documentation Requirements for Allocation of Foreign Exchange for Small Scale Importation dated May 03, 2017, to the effect that importers of items classified as “ineligible for Forex” with transactions value of $20,000 and below per quarter shall now qualify for allocation of foreign exchange subject to the completion of form Q”.
“This provision does not refer to the 41 items that remain ineligible for forex sale in the Nigerian Forex market,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, having provided documentations to prove that they had indeed sold forex for small scale importation user the SMIS forex window, the CBN yesterday reversed its ban on some banks from participating in the forex market.
The apex bank had on Tuesday barred all banks save eight of them from the forex market for refusing to sell forex to small scale importers. According to the CBN, the banks were sanctioned for not adhering to the forex supply policy to SMEs thereby frustrating the efforts of small businesses that needed FOREX. The eight banks that were not suspended include; Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
However, the CBN had re-admitted Keystone Bank along with a number of other banks to participate in the weekly wholesale spot and forwards intervention, after it had verified that the bank was in compliance with the sale of forex to small businesses through the SME forex window.
Meanwhile, Keystone Bank was yesterday readmitted into the spot and wholesale forwards segment of the foreign exchange (FX) market by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sequel to the provision of evidence of sales of FX to Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SME) since the introduction of the special window for small businesses.
Speaking on the development, the acting managing director of Keystone Bank, Mr. Hafiz Bakare said, “SMEs are an integral part of the economy of Nigeria and as such we at Keystone Bank are committed to supporting this sector. We are pleased to have clarified the banks position with the CBN as we have always shown support for SMEs through our work with farmers, manufacturers, schools and other business owners”.
Also, following the welding of the big stick by the apex banking sector regulator, banks are becoming more cautious in buying foreign exchage from the Central Bank of Nigeria as they were able to buy off only 29 per cent of the dollar auctioned yesterday.
For the second time running this week, banks and other authorized dealers failed to fully subscribe to dollar offered at the interbank market as could only pick the sum of $43.5 million, which represents 29 per cent of the $150 million offered for subscription in the wholesale segment of the foreign exchange market yesterday.
On Wednesday authorized dealers were able to subscribe to $65.94 million out of the $100 million offered by it at the inter-bank wholesale transactions
CBNspokesman, Isaac Okorafor, reaffirmed the Banks position to sustain the intervention with a view to making foreign exchange available for all genuine transactions eligible for foreign exchange through the CBN window.