CBN may relax forex restriction on imports this week

Consequent upon pressures and the open admonition by Senate President Bukola Saraki, and made more intense by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may relax its policy on forex on importation of 41 select items soon.

It was learnt that apart from the call made in the open by the Senate President during last week’s audience with the IMF boss on the CBN, it has also been revealed that Lagarde pointed out, in unequivocal terms, the dangers of the continued forex policy instituted by the apex bank in the last eight months.

The CBN yesterday said commercial banks in the country can now accept deposit in foreign currency once again after the it lifted the ban on deposits into domiciliary accounts.

CBN governor Godwin Emefiele, who announced this yesterday in Abuja, said the lifting of the restriction was to allow the banks build liquidity in forex and meet some of their demands.

He said the ban was necessitated by what he called dollarization of the economy by many Nigerians.

The move also raised hopes for reversal of the import restriction policy which was place in July last year.

During the closed door sessions between the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, and Senate President Saraki on the one hand, and another with Lagarde, there appeared to be a drift towards a consensual position on the restrictive forex policy.

Although Emefiele, according to a source at the private sessions, did not give away much regarding the apex bank’s possibility of a policy review, in the light of the expected visit from IMF economists this week, the policy may be relaxed.

The foreign exchange market witnessed introduction of several foreign exchange restrictions in 2015. 

The first notable restriction was the closure of official foreign exchange market (Retail Dutch Auction) on February 18, 2015 which translated to further devaluation of the naira to N197 per dollar from N165 per dollar.

 

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