By John Omachonu
Even at that, there’s no guarantee that one will be given on the appointed dates, but rather told to further ‘exercise patience’.
This is despite the fact that CBN had assured Nigerians that all legitimate requests for foreign currency for eligible transactions such as remittances for school fees, student maintenance allowances, Business Travel Allowance (BTA), Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Medical and other eligible transactions, would be fully met at the official exchange rate.
The apex bank further stated that “all banks would receive amounts commensurate with their demand per week, which would be sold to customers who meet usual basic documentary requirements”.
However, reality tells a different story. In February 2022, Nigerian Banks sent out messages advising customers of reduced dollar limits on debit cards. Furthermore, in May 2022, IATA published information suggesting that Nigeria was owing airline operators a backlog of over $450 million.
Hence, Nigerians may be forced to forget the CBN rate which is trading around N425/$ in favour of the parallel market, which trades at N610/$.
One of the local banks recently sent a message to its customers stating that it requires six to eight weeks before it can process the request for dollars.
“To serve you better, please be informed that we now require six to eight weeks to process your FX needs for international school fees, upkeep and medical payments. This will enable us to review your requests in line with regulatory requirements and ensure that we can source for FX to fulfil them,” the bank stated.
A staff of FirstBank, who spoke to metrobusinessnews.com on condition of anonymity confirmed that the wait time sometimes could be more than 8 weeks.
He said, “Eight weeks is too small, that’s if you get the dollar at all. Head office only gives $4000 per week to my branch and we have over 20 customers that want to travel within that week”.
Similarly, a customer of Zenith Bank expressed bitter experiences as he’s usually subjected to series of posrponents and what he regards to as ‘senseless rationing’.
But according to a banker, “even at that, we treat on first come first served basis and in most cases, since the requests are many, we further scrutinize the documents to see the dates they fall due, giving preference to most urgent and nearer ones.
“But we always advise customers to apply 5-7weeks before leaving the country so we can process the PTA.
“It’s really difficult to get dollars at the official rate,” he counseled.