The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced on Monday that the nations’ apex bank has decided to lift the ban stopping commercial banks from accepting cash deposits of foreign exchange from customers. This new directive will be effective immediately.
Mr. Emefiele said the CBN would henceforth equally discontinue its sales of foreign exchange to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators, accusing them of excessive greed and rent-seeking practices explaining that the BDC operators would now need to source their foreign exchange from autonomous sources.
He said to ensure that no operator violates the country’s anti-money laundering laws, the CBN would deploy more resources to closely monitor the sources of foreign exchange by the BDCs.
“These measures are not intended to be punitive on anyone or any group, rather it is meant to ensure that the CBN is better able to carry out its mandate in an effective and efficient manner, to guarantee the preservation of our scarce commonwealth, and that our hard-earned financial system stability remain intact to the benefit of all Nigerians,” the CBN governor explained.
Nigeria has been hit by foreign exchange crisis amid falling oil prices.
Amongst a range of stringent measures to protect the naira and shore up the nation’s foreign exchange reserves, the CBN ordered stoppage of cash deposit of foreign currencies and also blocked use of naira debit and credit cards abroad, and transactions requiring payments in foreign currencies.
It should be recalled that in August 2015, the Central Bank placed a policy ban directing commercial banks to reject foreign currency deposits. Though the policy may have both short and long term economic benefits for the country, Nigerians agitated explanation from the CBN on the merits or otherwise of the said policy and this sparked a lot of panic within the economy especially amongst people whose businesses were largely dependent on foreign exchange for transaction as well as Bureau De-Change Operators.