Abuja, Jan. 25, 2021 A financial expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, has urged Nigerians in diaspora to make remittances to relatives in dollars and other foreign currencies to preserve Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
Unegbu, a past president of Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), gave the advice in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
He also called on commercial banks to comply with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directive to always pay such remittances to their beneficiaries in foreign currencies.
Unegbu said that defaulting banks could be sanctioned to serve as deterrent.
“Remittances from abroad, if paid in dollars, pounds sterling or other foreign currencies will bring some gains in terms of exchange rate differentials.
“Remittances in foreign currency will boost foreign reserves and accelerate economic growth.
“CBN has already asked banks to pay in foreign currencies and that is why some banks are now advertising that they pay remittances in dollars.
“But if there are defaulting banks, they can be sanctioned, and that can be done by not accepting their Naira transfers,’’ he said.
Unegbu said that receiving such remittances in dollars was similar to receiving foreign exchange payments for services rendered, adding that it would accelerate economic growth.
NAN reports that CBN recently warned banks to henceforth pay beneficiaries of diaspora remittances in dollars.
A circular by Dr Ozoemena Nnaji, Director, Trade and Exchange Department, said that in spite of earlier circular to that effect, some International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) continued to facilitate such remittances in Naira.
“It has come to our notice that some IMTOs and unlicensed companies continue to facilitate diaspora remittances in Naira. This is in clear contravention of CBN directive that all remittances be paid to beneficiaries in dollars,’’ he said.
Nnaji said that only licensed IMTOs were permitted to carry out the business of facilitating diaspora remittances in Nigeria.
“All diaspora remittances must be received by beneficiaries in foreign currencies only. IMTOs are not permitted to disburse diaspora remittances in Naira,’’ he said.
Nnaji said that the measures were intended to promote transparency, grow diaspora remittances and improve foreign exchange inflows into Nigeria.
He warned that strict sanctions, including withdrawal of operating licenses shall be imposed on stakeholders caught to be contravening the guidelines.
“For unlicensed operators, CBN shall not hesitate to authorize the closure of their accounts in Nigerian banks, including being barred from accessing banking services in Nigeria,’’ he said.