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CBN increases forex allocation to banks

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has increased foreign exchange (forex) allocations to banks.

The move is to enable the banks meet the requests of customers, particularly travellers, seeking forex for travel allowances, payment of tuition and medical fees, among other invisibles.

The CBN’s action follows warning by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, at a weekend meeting with managing directors of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), cautioning them to desist from denying customers, particularly travellers, the opportunity to purchase forex for Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proceeds.

Confirming the discussions at the meeting of bank chiefs, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, said in a note that the CBN remained committed to ensuring liquidity in the forex market to meet genuine and legitimate demands of customers.

He added: “The CBN agreed to increase the amount allocated to banks for travellers, Small and Medium Enterprises among others. The banks also agreed to operate something akin to foreign exchange imprest account such that the coffers of banks will be replenished so long as they retire the initial amounts to the satisfaction of the CBN.”
Nwanisobi allayed fears of a forex shortage and urged members of the public seeking to purchase foreign exchange for PTA, BTA, payment of tuition fees or medical fees to do so from their banks.

“We wish to assure members of the public that the CBN shall continue to monitor market developments and is committed to ensuring an efficient FX market for all legitimate users,” he said.

He, however, advised customers to approach their customer service representatives of their designated banks should they encounter challenges, adding that they could escalate complaints to the CBN via the bank’s toll-free line: 07002255226 or send an email to cpd@cbn.gov.ng if their requests are not met.

Sources at the meeting with the bank CEOs held to address the challenge faced by customers in accessing forex from their banks, said Emefiele warned that the CBN would deal with any bank that denies customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange for legitimate purposes.

According to the source, Emefiele said the CBN management frowned upon the seeming difficulty customers experienced in accessing foreign exchange through the banks, particularly for Invisibles such as PTA and requests bordering on tuition and healthcare needs.

Emefiele had last week reiterated the bank’s commitment to ensuring steady availability of foreign exchange for manufacturers.
Emefiele had also urged banks as well as Nigerians to strive to end environmental pollution and ensure sustenance of banking principles.

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BUSINESS

UAE makes U-turn, reinstates ban on Nigerian flights

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Less that 48 hours after announcing resumption of flights to Nigeria, Emirates, the UAE flag carrier, has again announced indefinite suspension of flights to Nigeria.

The UAE authorities had initially fixed Wednesday, June 23, 2021, for resumption of flights to Nigeria.

But in a statement on its website on Monday, the airline said, “In line with government directives, passenger flights to and from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) are suspended with effect from 21 June 2021 until further notice.”

The airline had on Saturday announced resumption of flights, which were suspended in March over diplomatic row on COVID-19 protocols.

The Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management had lifted the ban on Nigeria and also removed the rapid antigen test and said passengers from Nigeria would only be required to possess negative PCR test.

“We look forward to facilitating travel from these countries and supporting various travelers’ categories.

“We will resume carrying passengers from South Africa, Nigeria and India in accordance with these protocols from 23rd June,” Emirates had announced.

But it made U-turn on Monday with a new travel update indicating that Lagos and Abuja flights would no longer resume on Wednesday as earlier announced.

Emirates said, “Customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel. Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE.

“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking. Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.”

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CAC boss denies N6.54bn fraud allegation

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has denied claims of alleged N6.542 billion fraud and other allegations by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

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CAC Boss Denies N6.54bn Fraud Allegation

The Registrar General/Chief Executive, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar, has expressed the commission’s commitment to the anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, adding that it will not in any way be party to corrupt practices.

He said the CAC would continue to work hard to achieve the objectives for which it was established to the satisfaction of its customers and stakeholders.

Abubakar spoke against the backdrop of alleged abuse of power and financial impropriety among others leveled against the management by the CAC staff union under the aegis of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation , Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE).

He vowed that the commission would not be distracted by mischief makers bent on running down the organisation.

The commission in a statement said contrary to the claims by the union, the registrar-general had declared his assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in accordance with provisions of the laws of the land, pointing out that it was laughable that the claimants were raising doubt over the content of asset declaration they are not privy to. “It behooves on them to establish any case of wrong declaration,” it stated.

On the alleged inflation of consultancy fees for tax reconciliation, the commission in a statement issued over the weekend by the Director of Public Affairs, CAC, Duke Ukaga, said the tax consultant was engaged long before the appointment of Abubakar, adding that the former’s fees was based on the percentage of savings made to the commission as contained in his engagement letter.

The commission said the consultant was able to renegotiate the commission’s tax liability, saving about N600 million in the process.

The commission, among other things, denied accusations of abuse of power, financial impropriety and commercialisation of promotion examination in the commission.

According to it, “The 2019 examination was held on October 10, 2020, at JAMB CBT Centres in Abuja, Kano and Lagos. A total of 394 staff members sat for the 2019 promotion examination.

“The result of the examination was published the same day at the commission’s website upon receipt from JAMB.

“At the end of the final collation, a total of 258 candidates were successful and promotion letters were issued to the staff upon approval by the board of the commission. It is highly mischievous for anybody to claim that the process was commercialised.”

The management further clarified that the allegations are “figment of imagination of the AUPCTRE who could still not accept the reality of losing checkup dues of over N2 million monthly from the commission following the stoppage of checkup dues deduction in respect of senior staff.”

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Nigeria’s economy recovering from COVID-19 impact – IMF

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that Nigeria’s economy is gradually recovering from the negative impact of COVID-19.

This is as it cautioned the federal government to keep reliance on CBN overdrafts for deficit financing within legal limits.

The Fund also urged the government continue to make efforts to strengthen budget planning and public finance management practices to allow for flexible financing

The IMF, in a statement at the end of its virtual meetings with the Nigerian authorities to discuss recent economic, financial developments and outlook, described the recent removal of the official exchange rate from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) website as “encouraging”.

IMF mission, however, noted that both unemployment and inflation rates remain elevated.

The mission said following the sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, gross domestic product (GDP) turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 per cent year-on-year in Q1 2021 — supported by agriculture and services sectors.
“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 per cent, owing to high food price inflation,” the statement reads.

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