Saturday, February 20, 2016

School fees, medical bills eligible for forex – CBN

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

5828

Oyetunji Abioye

The Central Bank of Nigeria says schools fees and medical bills are still among the items that are valid for foreign exchange allocation at its official window.

This came barely two weeks after the Bankers' Committee announced its plans to stop providing forex for bank customers for the purpose of paying school fees and medical bills.

The committee argued that school fees and medical bills were accounting for about 15 per cent of Deposit Money Banks' total forex allocation and there was need to channel such to the real a sector.

The plan has generated series of controversies and criticisms in the last few days.

The CBN, however, declared on Friday that it had not stopped forex allocation for school fees and medical bills payment at its official window.

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Ibrahim Mu'azu, in a statement, said, "The CBN wishes to clarify to the general public that it has not stopped the allocation and sale of foreign exchange for purposes of paying school fees and settlement of medical bills overseas. The bank therefore urges members of the public to disregard any contrary information in respect thereof.

"Despite assurances from the CBN, some persons have continued to suggest that the bank has stopped the allocation of foreign exchange to Nigerians seeking to pay school fees and medical bills overseas. The bank urges members of the public to discountenance such misinformation."

He added that "all genuine users desiring to obtain foreign exchange for the above-mentioned purposes are hereby urged to freely approach their banks with their requests and appropriate documentation."

The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, had after the Bankers' Committee meeting in Abuja last Thursday, said there was a need for Nigerians to be patriotic in terms of the sacrifices they needed to make to enable the country to move forward.

She said, "If you think about it, the pressure on forex now – from school fees abroad – is significant. At what point should we begin to look inwards?

"The pressure on medicals is significant. At what point should we begin to look inwards? As Nigerians, we also need to be patriotic in terms of our sentiments.

"We need to think about what do I have to sacrifice today for the long-term benefit of our country and the economy?"

Also commenting on the development after the committee's meeting, the Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said, "The problem with that (schools fees and medical bills) is the fact that it tends to crowd out the critical foreign exchange that should be used in the real sector to import raw materials, to support industries, to encourage employment.

"So, there is a question around how far we are going to allow this to continue. Shouldn't we redirect these resources towards the real sector as we should?"

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