The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says very soon, it would no longer give foreign exchange to Nigerians seeking to use it to pay school fees and medical bills abroad.
The apex bank, alongside Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), said school fees and medical bills constituted as much as 15 percent of Nigeria’s forex demand.
Reaching this decision at the bankers’ committee meeting in Abuja, the CBN said it would be focusing on releasing forex to the manufacturing sector, which would in turn grow the Nigerian economy.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Tokunbo Martins, director of CBN banking supervision department, said the pain would be temporal, and it would drive real growth in the nearest future.
“It is something that affects all of us, and I think that the watchword is belt tightening. It is pain we may need to go through today, so that there will be long term development in the country,” she said.
“If you think about it, the pressure on forex now from school fees abroad is significant. The pressure medicals are significant. At what point should we begin to look inward? As Nigerians, we also need to be patriotic in terms of our sentiments.”
The committee said it plans to divert such medical and school fees forex to boosting manufacturing in Nigeria. The bankers also revealed that Nigeria’s banking inclusion had more than double in the past few years, with about 67 million Nigerians now banking their monies.
At TheCable’s devaluation debate on Thursday, it was revealed that Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves could literally hit zero in 10 months – at current movement.
“As we speak, I understand that our forex inflow under $1 billion, if you’re earning less than one billion, and your outflow remains at more than $4 billion, obviously, all other things being equal, I imagine that in one year, our foreign reserves would be zero,”
Adams Oshiomhole, Edo state governor, said. Going by these figures, Nigeria’s reserves would gain $10 billion in 10 months, bringing the reserves to $38 billion and deplete by $40 billion (at $4 billion per month) within the same time frame. Drastic measures are expected to be taken to avert this.