House of Representatives yesterday summoned Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to explain to it the new policy directing commercial banks to reject foreign currency deposits into domiciliary accounts held in the banks. It also resolved to setup an ad hoc committee to look into the financial books and records of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the bid to ensure adherence to constitutional and statutory provisions.
In a motion entitled “Need For the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Address the House on The CBN’s Foreign Exchange Policy on Rejection of Foreign Currency Deposits by Commercial Banks in Nigeria” raised as a matter of urgent public importance and sponsored by Hon Emmanuel Ekon, it noted that the CBN Act of 2007 confers it with power to devise suitable mechanism for the exchange of the Naira periodically.
“Though, the policy may have both short and long term economic benefits for the country, Nigerians do not have any explanation from the CBN on the merit and otherwise of the said policy and has not created avenues to address the fears of parents wishing to remit money abroad for their children’s education, of manufacturers placing orders for goods abroad.
“The explanation of the said policy to members of the House by the Governor of the Central Bank will enable members to disseminate the information on the said policy to their respective constituents and thereby leverage on the enlightenment drive of the CBN on the necessity of the said policy”, Ekon said.
The lawmaker also explained that if the CBN failed to explain to Nigerians, it may be counterproductive as it appears to be already misunderstood by the general populace. “Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of panic within the economy as we speak. People don’t know what becomes of their businesses which largely depend on foreign exchange for transaction. Banks are crying, Bureau De-Change (BDC) operators are crying, importers are also crying.
“There is the need for the CBN to carry out adequate sensitization of the public regarding this policy by way of explaining reasons behind this policy and it’s benefits, or otherwise, or the nation’s economy may suffer for it”, he said.
The motion was however challenged by a point of order raised by another member who argued that it was unnecessary as its concerns would be address when the CBN governor appears before the Senate, which had already summoned him on the state of the economy.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara however intervened, stressing the need for such an interaction with the bank’s management for the purpose of informing Nigerians. “If you look at the last motion in the Senate, this is very different. As we speak, there is serious confusion out there.
The reason for allowing the presentation of this motion is that we all have to be sensitized on what the CBN is doing”, Dogara said. Contributing, Hon. Chris Azubogu argued that “the need for us to be properly informed and educated is what the motion is talking about.
When we get better explanations, people will know what it is all about and banks customers also will know what the limit of borrowing is and take into cognizance the need to prepare their minds for what they want to embark on”.
Deputy Whip of the House, Hon. Pally Iriase said, “I am in support of this motion because the policy is so confusing to everybody. “Domiciliary account is one asset that a country that does not have a viable foreign exchange market uses to transact business abroad. We should be able to sit down with the CBN to find out what the CBN has done with this policy so we can make informed decisions”.
-Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja