As part of its efforts to ensure a stable exchange rate, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sold foreign exchange amounting to $18.35billion to authorised dealers between January and September this year, findings by New Telegraph show. An analysis of latest forex data obtained from the apex bank indicates that it supplied a total of $13.98 billion to authorised dealers in the first half of the year and another total of $4.37billion in the third quarter.
This means that the CBN sold a combined total of forex amounting to $18.35billion in the first nine months of 2020. The figure is 62 per cent ($11.37billion) less than the $29.72 billion that the regulator sold to authorised dealers in the corresponding period of last year.
In fact, further analysis of the data shows that when compared to 2019 figures, the CBN’s forex sales only headed north in Q1’20, as the sharp drop in the price of oil-the commodity that accounts for about 90 per cent of the country’s export earnings coupled with the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, resulted in a significant decline in external reserves, thereby limiting the amount the regulator could inject into the forex market to defend the naira.
For instance, in its Q3’20 economic report released last Thursday, the CBN stated: “During the third quarter of 2020, total foreign exchange sales to authorised dealers by the Bank amounted to $4.37 billion, a decline of 2.3 per cent from the level in the preceding quarter.
“This was attributed largely to the decrease in wholesale forward intervention and interbank sales. The total foreign exchange sales represented a decrease of 56.4 per cent, compared with the corresponding quarter of 2019.
Further disaggregation showed that matured swap transactions and SMIS intervention rose by 50.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent to $1.24 billion and $1.96 billion, from the levels in the preceding quarter.
“However, interbank sales, interventions at the I&E window and SME fell by 22.3 per cent, 18.7 per cent and 3.5 per cent to $0.15 billion, $0.39 billion and $0.30 billion relative to their levels in the preceding quarter. Foreign exchange cash sale to BDCs was $0.33 billion in the review period.” Similarly, in its 2020 Half Year Economic Report, the regulator stated: “The precautious level of economic activities hampered foreign exchange supply to authorised dealers.
Total foreign exchange supply to authorised dealers by the bank stood at $13.98 billion, indicating a decline of 15.3 per cent each, below the levels in the preceding half year and the corresponding half of 2019, respectively. “Of the total, inter-bank sales amounted to $0.38 billion, compared with $0.62 billion and $0.81 billion in the preceding six months and the corresponding period of 2019, respectively. At the Bureaux De Change (BDC) segment, total sales declined to $3.63 billion in the review period, compared with 6.75 billion and $6.86 billion in the preceding half year and corresponding period of 2019, respectively, due to the temporary suspension of sales to the segment as international travels were grounded.
“Foreign exchange sales under the Secondary Market Intervention Scheme (SMIS) and to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) declined by 7.6 per cent and 31.0 per cent to $3.16 billion and $0.57 billion, respectively, from their levels in the preceding half year.
Sales to the Investors and Exporters’ (I&E) window rose by 27.6 per cent to $6.24 billion, compared with the levels in the preceding six months and the corresponding period of 2019, respectively.” Analysts point out that the downward trend of forex sales by the CBN so far, this year, clearly indicate that total forex sales at the end of 2020 will be significantly lower than the last few years. In its “Annual Activity Report 2019,” released last month, the apex bank had disclosed that it made total foreign exchange sales of $23.9billion last year as part of measures to ensure exchange rate stability.
The report showed that total forex sales in 2019 was $1.8billion less than the amount ($25.7billion) it sold in the previous year. The regulator attributed the lower sales it made in the foreign exchange market in 2019, compared to 2018’s, to the increased level of activity at the I&E window. Specifically, the CBN said that in 2019, total forex sales stood at $23.9billion, comprising $13.1billion as spot and $10.8billion forwards.
According to the report, “the spot sales comprised $6,038.40 million at the I&E window, $4,267.16 million at the inter-bank, $1,674.00 million for SMEs and $1,123.10 million for invisibles. On the other hand, the bank purchased $11,043.78 million. Thus, net sales by the bank amounted to $12,841.23 million. The sum of $10,078.01 million matured at the forwards, while $3,481.64 million remained outstanding at end-December 2019.”