Lagos — Following persistent complaints that some banks are frustrating efforts of many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access foreign exchange from the new window created by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the apex bank yesterday barred all but eight banks from dealing in the SME wholesale Forex window. The CBN disclosed that it took the decision to bar the erring banks based on field reports, which revealed that only eight banks had sold forex to the SMEs segment since the inception of the new window.
The apex bank had frowned at the action of banks that declined to sell foreign exchange to SMEs to enable them import eligible finished and semi-finished items despite the availability of forex from the CBN Wholesale intervention window. Confirming the decision, the CBN acting director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said all banks that had refused to sell forex to the SME actors after accessing over $300 million offered to the SMEs wholesale forex window since its creation last month will be sanctioned accordingly.
He listed the banks not barred to include: Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank, Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank, Unity Bank and Zenith Bank, warning that the CBN would not sit back and allow any form of instability in the interbank forex market through the actions of institutions or individuals. He therefore urged all stakeholders to play by the rules for the benefit of the entire country and its economy.
Meanwhile, the CBN has continued its massive intervention in the foreign exchange segment of the financial market by injecting a total of $196.2 million into the various segments of the Forex market on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. According to Okorafor, the apex Bank offered the sum of the $100 million to authorized dealers at Tuesdays FOREX wholesale auction. A breakdown of the other interventions indicate that the CBN made available the sum of $52 million to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment, while invisibles such Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), Medicals and tuition received $44.2 million. Okorafor also announced interventions in the retail auction window, which he said would be computed when the Bank receives requests made by customers to the CBN through their respective banks. He also disclosed that the Bank will continue its weekly sale of $20,000 to dealers in the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment this week. The spokesman expressed confidence that the interventions will continue to guarantee stability in the market and ensure availability to individuals and business concerns.