The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given assurance that trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines will be repatriated, but no guarantee that it will provide airlines with all their earnings in Dollar.
Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, made the statement after the monetary policy committee’s meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.
Recall that the issue had generated several reactions from aviation stakeholders and the non-repatriation of airlines revenue had grown from $450 million in May to $464 million in July.
The CBN had also intervened by releasing $265 million to clear part of the forex backlog.
Emefiele said the trapped funds were released to reduce the pressure in the sector, which would have disrupted the travel plans of many Nigerians if left unattended.
“In spite of this, we have seen that the number of travels or naira value of tickets issued by the airlines has increased.
We decided to release $265 million when the pressure was building aggressively.”
According to Emefiele, it was not the role of CBN to give airlines all their dollar revenues, citing the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA), insisting the agreement did not explicitly say “you must repatriate all your dollars.”
Emefiele said: “No law that makes it compulsory that you must buy your Dollars from the Central Bank. When you put money in your account, what it means is that you tell your bank to buy your dollar.
“We will do everything possible and are determined to clear the backlog and consistently, at all the retail interventions. As long as the bank accounts are funded, we will continue to ensure that the cumulative backlog is cleared.”
“But I think it is important for me to say this — the foreign airlines are saying this because they said we should respect bilateral air services agreements (BASA) that say proceeds of all their ticket sales must be repatriated out of the country. It did not say you must repatriate all your dollars.”
Emefiele added that “no law that makes it compulsory that you must buy your Dollars from the Central Bank. When you put money in your account, what it means is that you tell your bank to buy your dollar” and added that “your bank will go to the legitimate or approved sources which in this case is the I&E to buy dollars and pay for your ticket sales proceeds.”