The Bankers Committee of the Central Bank on Thursday declared that there was adequate stock of foreign exchange to sustain the spate of dollar sales to various segments of forex market.
The regulator stressed that it was in possession of adequate stock of dollars to ensure that it met the demands of all genuine bank customers in the country.
The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Ahmed Abdullahi, said this at a press briefing held along some chief executive officers of banks shortly after the committee’s meeting in Lagos.
Abdullahi said, “The recent development in the forex market has led to prices turning downwards and convergence of rates and the positive effect of that on the economy. We have seen inflation trending downwards. There is a forecast that by the second quarter of this year, the economy will be out of recession and we are going to see positive growth.
“The fact is that the CBN has the arsenal in its war chest to be able to sustain what is happening in the forex market. That is why the CBN recently introduced new FX windows for the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises to access forex through their banks with minimum documentation.”
He added, “There is also another initiative, the investor/exporter window, where it will be a market where prices will be determined by market forces, and it is a window that will allow investors to come in and trade their forex at a price they consider appropriate. Because of the convergence of rates, confidence is going to be built in the market so we are likely to see investors come in.
“In order to further build confidence, that is why we have this window that will enable them come in and improve the inflow of forex in the economy.”
According to the CBN director, the committee has agreed to allow banks to use five per cent of their profits after tax to provide equity funding for SMEs and agricultural companies.
He said, “The important thing is the economy and the committee also emphasised the issue of financing the SMEs and agriculture, using five per cent of the banks’ profits. That will help in fast-tracking the process of the economy coming out of recession.
“So, the banks are determined to contribute five per cent of their profits to be used in providing equity funding for agriculture and all small-scale businesses in the export drive.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Rand Merchant Bank, Mr. Michael Larbie, said the committee was committed to providing forex to end-users.
“In line with that, the banking community is committed to further ensuring that forex is available for all legitimate personal and business travels. As a result, the banks now are committed to having travel desks and cubicles in most of their branches where appropriate exchange rates will be duly published so that anyone that walks in and requires business travel allowance will get it,” Larbie explained.
The Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said the committee also agreed to establish a central database to enable the banking industry to identify and remove suspected electronic fraudsters from the system.
This, he said, would lead to the reduction of e-banking and card frauds.
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Charles Kie, said the committee emphasised the need for all the banks to continue to support the economy in order to get it out of recession.
The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said factors that drove the economy into recession were being addressed already.