The Central Bank of Nigeria has lifted a ban stopping commercial banks from accepting cash deposits of foreign exchange from customers. The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who announced the decision in Abuja on Monday, said the new directive took immediate effect. Mr. Emefiele said the CBN would henceforth equally discontinue its sales of foreign exchange to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators, accusing them of excessive greed and rent-seeking practices.
The CBN governor explained that the BDC operators would now need to source their foreign exchange from autonomous sources. He said to ensure that no operator violated the country’s anti-money laundering laws, the CBN would deploy more resources to closely monitor the sources of foreign exchange by the BDCs. “These measures are not intended to be punitive on anyone or any group,” the CBN governor explained. “Rather it is meant to ensure that the CBN is better able to carry out its mandate in an effective and efficient manner, to guarantee the preservation of our scarce commonwealth, and that our hard-earned financial system stability remain intact to the benefit of all Nigerians,” he added.
Nigeria has been hit by foreign exchange crisis amid falling oil prices. Amongst a range of stringent measures to protect the naira and shore up the nation’s forex reserves, the CBN ordered stoppage of cash deposit of foreign currencies and also blocked use of naira debit and credit cards abroad, and transactions requiring payments in foreign currencies