• CBN boss says no one should buy USD above N360
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, yesterday paid unscheduled visits to three commercial banks in Abuja to monitor compliance with the Over The Counter (OTC) sales order of forex to qualified buyers.
The visit followed the apex bank’s new directive that all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) must sell foreign exchange (forex) to customers and non-customers alike.
Emefiele, went to the regional head offices of FirstBank at Commassie House, Central Business District, Zenith Bank, Maitama and United Bank for Africa (UBA), all in Abuja, where he urged members of the public to go to the banks for all their forex needs.
He said: “We have issued a directive that all banks are to sell Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) to anybody that walks into their banks; whether he is a customer or not a customer of that bank. It is the bank’s primary responsibility to provide currency for travelers out of the country.
“So all that you need present to get your forex, are your BVN (Bank Verification Number), your passport, your visa and your return ticket. You are not expected to just deposit your documents and go away. You are expected to be attended to over the counter.”
He pointed out that the essence of the visit, “is to see whether the banks are doing what they were asked to do. I must say that I am happy. The policy hasn’t gained ground. I would have loved to see a long queue of people wanting to buy BTA from the bank.
Emefiele said all the banks are stocked with foreign currency, assuring that people should not have problem coming to a bank to buy forex. “I repeat, whether it is your bank or not, walk in and you will see a cubicle marked PTA/BTA, or Bureau de Change. You can go in there and buy your dollar.
“The price is N360 to a dollar that you are going to pay; there is ample liquidity for every eligible traveler and nobody should fall into the temptation of buying BTA or PTA from a bank at more than N360/$1. The banks are entitled to their margins. Their margins have been built into it. You don’t have to pay any charge. It is symbolic that I see for myself and we will also be talking to the management of the banks.”
He said CBN examiners will continue the on-the-spot assessment to find out and be sure that people who are travelling get attended to on-the-spot at the counter.
“If you are a customer, you give them details of your account , they debit your account and give you foreign currency. If you are not a customer, you give them your card or you transfer money into the bank and they will release the foreign currency to you. The essence is to ensure that customers get forex promptly across the counter once they presented valid documents,” he said.
Speaking with reporters, Executive Director (Northern operations) of Zenith Bank Plc, Umar Ahmed, said the bank has been attending to both customers and non customers that walked in for BTA. “We are attending to customers irrespective of whether the customer has account with us or not. All we required is for the customer to present eligible papers and he gets his currency in matter of minutes,“ he said.
Also the Head, Branch Services, FirstBank Plc, Zainab Darlington said te bank has since complied with CBN’s directive on selling forex to eligible customers whether they banked with FirstBank or not.
“We’ve been attending to customers whether you have an account with us or not. We validate their documents and BVN and then sell forex to them. It doesn’t take time,” she said.
At Zenith Bank, the Executive Director, Umar Ahmed said it takes the bank less than five minutes to serve a customer once the documents have been verified.
According to him, “ we pay promptly and we do not encounter any challenges. We’ve enough forex supply to meet demands. We have a new set of forex seekers which is those going for umrah lesser hajj.”
The Head of Branch Services of First, Ms. Zainab Darlington, and Ms. Jennifer Iloabachie, an Assistant General Manager of UBA who spoke with journalists confirmed that they had enough forex to meet customers’ demand.