Indications emerged, yesterday, that banks in the country are now in a dilemma on what to do with an estimated $5 billion that is currently idle in their vaults.
Banks, it was gathered, have their vaults full of dollars that they do not know how to dispose them. It is funds they can neither lend to other banks nor sell to CBN, and the only option open to them is to sell.
Bank foreign exchange officers, who spoke to Vanguard. said that as of today, no bank will buy dollar from anybody. The source said it is not for any other thing but the fact that the banks have more than enough in their vaults.
The dollars being sold by banks for BTA and PTA, they say, have no direct relationship with the foreign reserve, hence the marginal increase in the nation’s external reserve despite continued downward trend in crude oil prices.
Vanguard gathered that banks have been pleading with the CBN to allow them sell off their dollar holdings when the apex bank could not supply enough dollars to fund customers’ request for BTA and PTA. It was learnt that when the CBN finally gave its nod recently, the banks immediately called on their customers and the public to buy Basic Travelling Allowance from designated banks.
Vanguard learned that there is more than $5 billion within the economy that are still in the hands of individuals outside the banking system.
It also learned from top bankers that before the general elections, there was scarcity of foreign exchange in the banking system and that banks were allocated about $30,000 for sale to customers that requested for BTA, which was grossly inadequate for most banks.
He said immediately after the election, banks started receiving dollar deposits in millions per day. This, he said, was done mainly by politicians, who got dollars during the electioneering campaign, which resulted in banks’ vaults stocked with dollar deposits that can neither be given out as loans nor transferred as it would be regarded as money laundering.
A bank customer, who used funds from a domiciliary account to support his ward’s visa application before the glut of the dollar in the system, said the bank made it clear it could not transfer the fund from the child’s domiciliary account to the parent’s account after the visa was secured.
The parent said the bank added that if the child travels abroad, the fund cannot be withdrawn by the parent even if the child had already signed a withdrawal form for the parent’s use when the money is needed.
Banks refuse to accept dollar cash deposits
Banks are now refusing to accept any form of dollar cash deposits and even insist that transfer from one domiciliary account to another in the same bank will be regarded as a form of cash deposit that regulators will frown at.
According to them, the rules are now very stringent and no bank wants to be on the wrong side of the law. In one of the banks, Vanguard learned that no local bank will undertake to do transfer for Nigerian parents whose wards are in schools abroad which accommodation are not directly linked to the school.
Nigerian banks, they added, will also not do a third party transfer. Unfortunately for many Nigerian parents whose wards are enrolled in masters’ programmes in the United Kingdom, many universities in the UK do not provide direct accommodation for second degree students and such students have to Rcontract accommodation with property owners.
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