Members of the Bankers’ Committee have agreed that banks in the country should stop charging commission on the sale of foreign exchange to customers, particularly those meant for Personal Travel Allowance, Business Travel Allowance, tuition and medical bills payment.
The Bankers’ Committee comprises the CBN governor, the chief executive officers of all commercial banks and merchant banks in the country, and the CEOs of other key agencies and organisations in the financial industry.
The Managing Director, FSDH Merchant Bank, Hamda Ambah, made the announcement in Lagos on Tuesday at a press conference held after the committee’s meeting.
As a result, Ambah said no bank was allowed to charge commission on forex purchased for the purposes stated above.
She stated, “The Bankers’ Committee took a palliative measure that would be beneficial to individual customers who make use of foreign exchange for Personal Travel Allowance, Business Travel Allowance, medical bills and school fees payments.
“Therefore, all banks will charge 360/dollar for these without charging commission. The CBN has asked customers to report any bank that charges commission on them.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria also announced that the country’s foreign exchange reserves had hit $42bn as of February 6, 2018.
This was just as all the Deposit Money Banks in the country on Tuesday reached a consensus with the Central Bank of Nigeria to give leverage to the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan by channelling loans to three main sectors.
The three main sectors are power and gas, agriculture and transportation, and manufacturing and processing.
The DMBs reached the agreement at the Bankers’ Committee meeting held at the CBN zonal office in Lagos.
The Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Demola Sogunle, said in a bid to support the Federal Government’s EGRP, the banks had agreed to support the three selected areas of the Federal Government’s Focus Labs.
According to him, the government is trying to put in place focus labs, which are expected to attract private sector investments into the specific sectors.
Sogunle said, “As part of the Federal Government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, the government has decided to conduct Focus Labs in three focus areas, namely power and gas, agriculture and transportation, and manufacturing and processing.
“There will be pre-lab, main lab and post-lab segments. Banks will participate fully by prioritising loans to these areas because it will create more jobs and produce economic growth.”
The Director, Banking Supervision Department, CBN, Ahmad Abudullahi, disclosed that the external reserves had hit $42bn, adding $2bn since the beginning of the year.
“The external reserves were close to $40bn as of the end of last year. There has been accretion between then and now. It is now about $42bn,” he added.
The CBN director said the committee reviewed the economy and concluded that the fundamentals were strong.
According to him, inflation is moderating and the economy is expected to grow this year by 2.1 per cent and 2.5 per cent according to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank predictions.
“There is a very high optimism about the economy in 2018,” he added.
The Managing Director, Citibank Nigeria, Akin Dawodu, said the committee also agreed that organisations or banks which had failed to repatriate oil and non-oil export proceeds must do so within 90 days.
Failure to remit the proceeds, he noted, could lead to sanction by the CBN.
The committee, Dawodu said, saw the need for stringent measures to get operators to adhere to the policy, adding that this would improve the balance of payment position and external reserves of the country and, as such, achieve continuous economic stability.
According to the Citibank boss, the CBN had last October issued a warning to operators asking them to remit their export proceeds.
While some companies had complied, he said there was still a need to get the recalcitrant operators to do the needful.
The CBN, he stated, reserved the right to sanction any company that failed to comply.