By Racheal Ishaya
Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday paid an unannounced visit to First Bank, UBA and Zenith banks offices in Abuja to inspect sales of foreign currencies to customers.
He said that the visit was to ascertain banks’ compliance with the new directive by the CBN to sell foreign currencies to all customers over-the-counter whether the customer had an account or not.
“The essence of us being here is to make sure that the banks are able to service not just their customers, but also those who are not their customers, particularly those who want to travel outside the country.
“I want to seize this opportunity to let everybody know that there is dollar availability. If you want to travel, go to a bank. It doesn’t have to be your bank.
“Whether you have an account or not, you should be attended to.
“Just walk into any bank with your travel document, show your Visa and air ticket. They will ask for your BVN and once they verify it, they should attend to you on the spot.
“Nobody should go home and come back because he or she wants to buy foreign exchange. You should be attended to immediately and that’s what over-the-counter means,’’ he said.
Emefiele said that all the banks were well stocked and whoever wants to make foreign exchange transaction should look for the “BTA/PTA counter’’ or “Bureau de Change counter’’ located in all banks’ branches.
He also said that all banks were expected to display daily foreign exchange rates for major currencies, so that the customer would be aware of how much he or she is paying.
“The essence of this inspection is to say that there is ample liquidity for any eligible traveler and nobody should fall into the temptation of buying BTA or PTA from a bank at more than N360 to a dollar.
“The banks are entitled to their margin, and their margin has already been built into the price so you don’t have to pay any additional charge,’’ he said.
According to Emefiele, the CBN Examiners will continue to do on-the-spot assessments at banks to find out and be sure that people who are traveling get attended to Over-the-Counter.
Emefiele visited the First Bank branch in Central Area, UBA branch in Area 3 and Zenith Bank in Maitama, Abuja.
He asked customers of the three banks their experiences in accessing foreign exchange, if they were being attended to promptly or not.
He also spoke with the Head Branch Service, First Bank, Abuja, Ms Zainab Darlington, Zenith Bank’s Executive Director, North, Mr Umar Ahmed and the Assistant General Manager, UBA, Mrs Jennifer Illoabache.
They all confirmed ample supply of foreign exchange from the CBN to meet all eligible demand for foreign exchange.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigerians traveling out of the country for personal reasons, are entitled to access a maximum of 4,000 dollars every quarter, while those going for business, 5,000 dollars.
Meanwhile, the Naira on Monday exchanged for N366 to a dollar at the Bureau de Change segment, showing slight improvement from the N367 it closed on Friday.