By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief,
The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that the seeming blackmail by foreign airlines over their demand for foreign exchange would not fly.
CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele
Reacting to threats by foreign airlines to sack about 2,000 workers over their inability to source enough forex for their operations, CBN's spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said the CBN had been selling forex to airlines through the Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, but that it should be recognised that there were other competing demands for the same forex from other sectors.
According to him, the scarcity of forex is being professionally managed by the monetary authorities in such a way that priority is given to the sectors that drive growth in the economy, especially manufacturing industries which is public knowledge.
He said: "That claim is not true. CBN has been selling forex to the airlines through their banks. We are going through a period of forex scarcity. Part of our strategy has been to identify key sectors and industries that will drive growth and curtail excessive forex demand. Airlines have been buying through their banks at the interbank rate.
"I am sure if you go through the published statements of sale by the banks, you will find this. What is not possible now, however, is for CBN to meet the demand by some of these airlines. But look at the advertised their airfares.
"Is it not curious to note that some of them have their business class fares as low as about N600,000, while others put theirs at close to N2millon? Can you imagine that?
''We all need to understand that there's no way we will collect all our reserves to satisfy just few businesses, while other ones suffer.