The local currency, naira, weakened against the dollar at the parallel market yesterday, closing at N515/$1 compared with N510 per dollar on Wednesday, data obtained from abokiFX. com (a website that collates parallel market rates in Lagos), show. Naira had steadily appreciated to settle at between N509 and N510 per dollar at the parallel market last week, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s announcement that it would no longer sell forex to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators sent the local currency plunging to a record low of N525/$1 on July 28. According to CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who made the announcement while briefing journalists at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on July 27, the apex bank took the decision because the BDCs had defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users, but instead, had become wholesale and illegal dealers, thereby becoming a conduit for illicit forex flows and graft. He disclosed that the weekly sales of foreign exchange by CBN would thus go directly to commercial banks, which would be monitored to ensure that they meet all legitimate forex demands of their customers.
In fact, in addition to getting the forex allocations that previously went to the BDCs, the banks, according to reports, started receiving an increased supply of forex from CBN, with those that used to get about $1.3 million, now receiving up to $4 million.
Until its decline against the dollar at the parallel market yesterday, naira appeared to have been bolstered by the CBN’s stepping up of forex sales to banks. A forex dealer, who did not want to be named, told New Telegraph that while the banks had sufficient forex to meet legitimate demands, the large number of Nigerians seeking dollars outside the banking system was pushing up forex demand at the parallel market, thereby weakening naira at that segment of the forex market