Thousands of travelers and students are groaning over the recent restriction on foreign exchange (forex) withdrawal using Automated Teller Machines (ATM) abroad to carry out their activities.
Some banks recently stopped their customers from accessing such services due to the shortage of forex while others said effective from 1st January 2016 they will impose the restriction.
Some students who spoke to Daily Trust at the weekend complained that the restrictions have brought serious hardships to them.
A student in India, Mohammed Salisu, said most of the banks have stopped such services saying at the moment only GT Bank’s ATM is accessible but at very exorbitant rate compared to what obtained before.
Another student in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Khalil Usman, said he and his colleagues are facing similar challenges due to the restriction.
An importer of shoes from Benin Republic and Togo yesterday said the restrictions on the use of ATM has made it difficult for him to access forex to procure such goods and that the only channel available is for him to source from black market which is not profitable. Nigerian students took to the streets of London to demand an alternative to manage the country’s forex reserve recently.
One Lewis Ayo in the United Kingdom (UK) said, “We are going to have people stranded abroad and denied access to their own cash.”
A development researcher, Edwin Daniel Ikhuoria, said, “The action of the CBN is really restricting choice and people are stranded. People are now resorting to sourcing for forex through whatever means and this is responsible for the skyrocketing parallel market rate,” he said.
A political analyst, Mukhtar Dan’Iyan said, “Those who are students abroad as designated by their BVN and should have spending access at the official forex rate up to a certain limit, same for those with medical needs…”
The ban is coming on the heels of the rationing of dollar to banks, importers and other forex users as the nation’s reserve depletes to $29bn, forcing CBN to discontinue the supply of forex for the year ending.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said in reaction that Nigeria is in difficult times due to shortfalls in the oil market. The Director, Monetary Policy Department, Moses Tule, said Nigerians abroad have to bear with the situation because of the scarcity of forex in the country.
“Foreign exchange under the condition Nigeria has found itself has become a seasonal commodity. It depends on the movement of oil price; if it’s high, we build reserves, if oil prices are low then we have no reserves, then we are in a crisis,” he said.
He explained that Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) placed the restrictions because they have to settle transactions made with debit cards with their corresponding banks in foreign currency and lack of such currency is a liability on them.