Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Foreign currency crisis worsens as CBN reportedly mop-up dollars to strengthen the naira

. As Nigerian banks fail to meet customers’ demands

By Emeka Okoroanyanwu

Commercial banks in the country have been hit by acute shortage of foreign currencies especially the United States dollar and British Pound Sterling. This is even as the Naira still lost today in the foreign exchange market.

The naira exchanged for N700 to US$1 today against the N670 to US$1 it exchanged last week last week. Two weeks ago, the naira exchanged for N710 to US$1.

READ ALSO: How billions of dollars are exported outside the country, by Emefiele

Many of the commercial banks visited today in Ikeja area of Lagos State by The Nigerian Xpress did not have enough foreign currency to give to their customers who besieged their counters for funds.

Most hit by the scarcity are First Bank Plc, Union Bank, Fidelity Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank and GTB. Most of the banks did not have the $100 preferred denomination to give to their customers. They were instead asked them to accept the $20 bills that attract a lower rate in the parallel market.

Many of those who could not receive foreign currencies from the banks are customers whose relations sent money from outside the country through international money transfer channels such as Money Gram, Sendwave, Flutterwave, Paystack etc.

The Nigerian Xpress correspondent who went round some banks today spoke to a lot of disappointed customers who complained of their inability to receive money sent to them by their relations from outside the country.

They said the banks complained of lack of dollars and Pound sterling to pay them while those who agreed to pay could only pay out lower dollar denominations such as $10, $20 or $50 dollar, against the preferred $100 bill.

Nigeria has been experiencing severe shortage of foreign currency in the past few years as the national currency has lost great value against international currencies. The loss has been blamed on the falling price of crude oil, Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earner.

However, Godwin Emiefele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week blamed corruption in the system for the high exchange rate and scarcity of foreign exchange in the country, fingering the Organized Private Sector (OPS) for the crisis bedeviling the foreign exchange market.

Emefiele said that the Organised Private Sector (OPS) obtains foreign exchange from the CBN but fails to bring it back to the country, adding that through this channel, billions of dollars are exported outside the country accounting for the current scarcity of foreign exchange and the falling value of the Naira.

Emiefele spoke at the First National Stakeholders Conference with the theme: “Promoting synergy between the banking industry and the Organized Private Sector (OPS), organised by the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB).

The CBN governor who was represented by Ebuak Ezule, Deputy Director banking supervision department, accused the OPS of not addressing the exportation of dollars outside the country.

He said the CBN had done a lot in interventions but its effort had not been visible owing to what he called structural problems which have not been addressed, faulting the National Assembly and the Presidency for not holding some government financial agencies accountable for the hugsums of money allocated to them.

He asked for accountability on the funds that have been allocated to the OPS and challenged them to provide evidence that less than one per cent of their members received intervention funds and called on Nigerians to be patriotic and accountable to responsibilities assigned to them.