By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA — Following the restrictions placed on importers of rice and other non-essential items from accessing foreign exchange at the nation’s foreign exchange market, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has revealed an ongoing massive smuggling of foreign currencies out of the country through her borders.
CBN in a statement by the Director of Trade and Exchange, Mr. Olakanmi Gbadamosi, said: “The apex bank has noted the unwholesome practice of movements of huge foreign currency cash across Nigerian borders by individuals and corporate bodies without compliance to extant law of declaration to the appropriate authorities.The apex bank which made the revelation of the unwholesome practice to frustrate the latest policy to conserve foreign exchange in the country, said it has taken steps, working with other agencies of the Federal Government, to stop the illegality and punish those involved.
“The bank is already collaborating with other relevant agencies of government to ensure compliance to the provisions of the law.”
The bank also clarified that importers of the classified items could not access foreign exchange from any of the segments of the foreign exchange.
The statement added that Bureaux de Change operators could sell foreign exchange worth $5,000 per transaction but only for specific payments.
Transactions captured in that category were: Business Travel/Personal Travel Allowance; monthly mortgage payment; school fees abroad; credit card payment; utility bills; and life insurance premium payment.
The CBN statement
The CBN statement reads in full: “The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been drawn to the misunderstanding arising from of its circular in respect of import items recently classified as ‘Not Valid for Foreign Exchange’ in any of the segments of the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
“The misconception has to do with the fact that some importers believe that they can access Bureaux de Change (BDCs) segment for funding of those classified items.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Central Bank of Nigeria has directed that BDCs are not authorized to fund import transactions in any form whatsoever, either by cash or wire transfer. Accordingly, authorized dealers are hereby barred from effecting wire transfers from the account of their BDCs’ customers henceforth.
“The bank, however, stated that the BDCs are only authorized to deal in foreign currency cash and to sell not more than US$5000.00 to an individual customer and strictly for the following transactions: Business Travel/Personal Travel Allowance; Monthly mortgage payment; School fees abroad; Credit card payment; Utility bills; and Life insurance premium payment.
“Meanwhile, the apex bank has noted the unwholesome practice of movements of huge foreign currency cash across Nigerian borders by individuals and corporate bodies without compliance to extant law of declaration to the appropriate authorities. The bank is already collaborating with other relevant agencies of government to ensure compliance to the provisions of the law.”