Why CBN put a halt to dollar payment- Sanusi Lamido

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, says he is confident his policies will stand the test of time even after his exit from the apex bank. The CBN chief who spoke in Washington DC, USA to a cross section of Nigerian reporters during the just-concluded International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting, emphasised the need to strengthen our institutions, among other issues. SIMEON EBULU, Deputy Business Editor, was there. Excerpts:



Why CBN put a halt to dollar payment

You know the interesting thing about our country is that, we try to be an island in the world.
If you are in the UK and somebody transfers money to you from the US, in what currency do you get paid in London? You get pounds. If you’re in Japan, you get paid in the Japanese yen. There’s no where in the world and because you get a transfer that you insist on being paid in that currency. The Central Bank did introduce this policy of asking banks to pay in dollars, because there was a time that the banks used to cheat people and pay them in a rate that was lower than the exchange rate. Now we’ve said it very clearly that the exchange rate must be the interbank rate at the date of the exchange and the banks must display that rate in their banking halls.
I don’t see how we are going to continue with a policy that is not consistent with global practices. We can’t continue importing dollars and basically saying that we don’t have confidence in our own currency. It’s like the argument that we should disburse the Federal Accounts Allocation (FAAC) in dollars. Tell me one country in the world that basically distributes its resources in foreign currency, why should Nigeria be the only one, why are we different, why is it that if you send money to someone in Nigeria, who is going to spend it in Nigeria, he should not be paid in the local currency?

The thinking here is that it is just a small transaction of $500, $1000
Then let them tell us one country in the world that allows it. It’s like all you journalist that write we should distribute FAAC in dollars. But just tell me one country in the world that basically distributes its reserves in foreign currency. Why should Nigeria be the only one? What is the logic and why are we different? If you go to Ghana you get paid in Cedi, and in the francophone countries you get paid in cfa. So why should your uncle or aunty living in Nigeria and who would spend naira, should not be paid the naira equivalent of the currency you sent, insisting on being paid in dollars. It is not right.

On realtors that seek payment in dollars
First of all, it is illegal. Anybody that refuses to accept the naira as legal tender, is committing an offence. I don’t think anybody would want to do that. What I think they might do is index their rents in dollars and use the exchange rate and accept the naira, but anyone who says I will not accept naira for payment, saying I want to be paid in foreign currency, is committing an offence.
On Maritime operators that deal in foreign currencies
They are covered by law. The law allows them to receive their duties in foreign currency


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