Dollar glut: Customers disagree with banks

  • Say accessing dollar from banks remains cumbersome

By Odunewu Segun                                          

While commercial banks in the country complain of sharp drop in dollar demand by its customers, some of the customers have said accessibility to the dollars from the commercial banks for their operations remained cumbersome despite the availability.

National Daily gathered that some customers seeking to buy forex for BTA, PTA, medical and school fees are being frustrated by some banks with the claim that the CBN is not allocating enough forex to them for BTA and other invisibles.

But the CBN in a swift reaction debunked the claims, saying all banks have enough forex in their possession for the purpose of meeting genuine customers’ demand.

But despite this assurance, customers told National Daily that access to forex still remains a mirage as most banks hoard the funds.

Denying the allegation that banks were not selling dollars to retail customers, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc, Segun Agbaje said: “If anything, part of what I have heard is that some banks do not even have enough customers to sell the BTAs to.”

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“From the perspective of the GTB and our customers, who bought BTAs in the last three or four weeks, they will tell you how easy it is. So, I really don’t know where the accusations are coming from.”

Stakeholders disagreed with the banks on the claim of low demand, noting that if there is low demand as being claimed by the banks, it will reflect on naira appreciation in the parallel market.

Commenting on the accessibility of the dollar, the Director General, Nigeria’s premiere chamber, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Muda Yusuf, argued that “Once there is a glut it will show in the exchange rate, because every surplus leads to price drop.”

According to him, if customers were finding it easy to access dollars from the official windows, it will impact on the parallel market through naira appreciation.

He noted that what is being accessed now, is from the forwards and not spot market, where customers had booked for the scarce currency way ahead.

Similarly, the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, claimed that telecoms operators were yet to benefit from the CBN’s efforts at making dollar available for service providers, noting that the glut, if any, should be for sectors like education and medical.

CBN’s forex intervention in the recent weeks through various offers and releases to the inter-bank market, the latest being the $240 million offered on Monday, has since seen the collapse of the multiple exchange rates in the market with the naira also gaining strength against other currencies.

Meanwhile, following the multitude of customers complaints to the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) over their frustration in getting forex from commercial banks for BTA/PTA, tuition and medical fees, the apex bank has admonished the customers to expose the erring bank for subsequent sanctions.

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