Barely 48 hours after it adjusted the exchange rate on its official website to N380/$1, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday altered the rate back to N379 per dollar, according to data on the apex bank’s website.
The data further shows that the regulator has also changed its official selling exchange rate from N381/$1 back to the former N380 per dollar rate. Although the CBN has not issued any statement so far on why it adjusted the official exchange rate on its website two days ago and reverted to the former rate 48 hours later, analysts point out that in the Federal Government’s 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which was approved by the National Assembly yesterday, the executive had proposed an exchange rate of N379 per dollar for 2021-2023.
The government said it retained N379/$1 as the exchange rate “given the determination of the Central Bank of Nigeria to pursue unification” of rates. With the naira coming under pressure in the forex markets, due to acute scarcity, occasioned by the slump in the price of oil, the CBN has come under pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to unify the country’s multiple exchange rates.
Indeed, when Nigeria was applying for a $3.4billion facility from the IMF to tackle the coronavirus crisis, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, wrote a letter to the fund in April, pledging that the government over the next 12 months would seek to unify the exchange rates to generate more naira from its foreign inflows and manage the rate in a sustainable manner.
Similarly, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, told an investor’s conference in May that the apex bank will pursue the unification of the exchange rates. He said: “We will continue to pursue unification around the NAFEX Market.”