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Forex scarcity hits banks as naira continues slide

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By ODUNEWU SEGUN


AS the naira continued to depreciate against the dollar at the parallel, bank customers are increasingly finding it difficult to withdraw dollars from their domiciliary accounts.

National Daily gathered most bank customers who had requested to withdraw from their domiciliary accounts were disappointed. One of the customers who spoke with National Daily, Mosun Akinola, said she had been unable to withdraw the amount she needed from her domiciliary account for over 8 days.

According to her, officials of the bank told her to try several of their branches to check if they could come up with the $1,300 she wanted to withdraw from her account. She said after requesting for the said amount at four branches of the bank, she could only get an aggregate of $400.

The CBN had only recently lifted its ban on the deposit and withdrawal of foreign currency by bank customers. Currently, the naira exchanges at about N300 at the parallel market and trades at about N200 at the official interbank window. Investigation, however, showed that the scarcity of dollars has worsened in banks which are therefore under pressure to meet customers’ foreign exchange demand.

Also, an anonymous source in one of the commercial banks said since the ban was lifted, people have not been coming to deposit dollars so there is nothing to give out to those who want to make withdrawals. He said since the ban was first imposed on deposits by the CBN, most banks had exhausted their reserve by using what they had to pay customers who came to request for them at that time.

“To make it worse, CBN also stopped issuing dollars to banks at that time, so there was dollar scarcity everywhere. Even now that the ban has been lifted, there is still no reserve because only a few people are coming to deposit their dollars and we can’t even approach the CBN because the apex bank would query the reason for asking for dollars. So, we have not been able to meet the demand for dollars, even when the ban has been lifted.” He explained.

Spokesperson for the CBN, Ibrahim Muazu, who admitted that dollar was in short supply, said banks would need to be aggressive to attract its deposits. “Those who deposited dollars in their banks have the right to get their money without any excuse. However, there are some realities, so it depends on the branch where they are making the demand because if the branch does not have the dollar cash, they will have to get it from other locations.”

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