The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN has said that its decision to review its Foreign Exchange policy, which gave preference in terms of allocation of foreign exchange to some strategic sectors of the economy, especially the real sector operators was to ease the challenges faced by travellers and other end-users.

Under the new arrangement, the apex bank has directed commercial banks to sell 60 per cent of their available forex to mainly members of the manufacturing sector.

CBN’s acting Director in charge of Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, who gave details of the new policy in a statement said that henceforth commercial banks are to open forex sales outlets at major airports in the country to increase travellers access to the foreign currencies.

According to him, this new measure was part of the response of the apex bank to the complaints by travellers over the difficulties they face in accessing forex for various international business transactions and personal travel allowances, school fees and medicals.

“In order to ease the difficulties encountered by Nigerians in obtaining funds for foreign exchange transactions, the CBN is providing direct additional funding to banks to meet the needs of Nigerians for personal and business travel medical needs, and school fees, and this takes immediate effect”.

“The CBN expects such retail transactions to be settled at a rate not exceeding 20 per cent above the interbank market rate.” The statement also said.

Meanwhile, part of the conditions for the allocation of the foreign exchange to the travellers is that such payments must be made directly by commercial banks to the institution specified by the customer.

The apex bank therefore assured that it would meet the needs of parents, guardians and sponsors who are seeking to make payments of school and educational fees for their children and wards.

It was gathered that under the new forex regime, the apex bank will commence the provision of forex to these commercial banks for both personal, business allowances so as to clear the backlog of mature letters of credit, which have been outstanding since the introduction of the current flexible exchange rate system, which came on stream late last year.

The apex bank added that despite the new policy, it will continue to accord priority to the manufacturing sector in the provision of foreign exchange.

The statement also said: “The CBN would ensure that this process is as smooth as possible and that as many customers as possible would access the foreign exchange they genuinely demanded.

“This would also apply to customers seeking to make payments, or purchase foreign exchange for medical bills and paid directly to hospitals.

“The supply of foreign exchange to retail end-users (PTA, BTA, school fees, medical bills, etc) would be sustained by the CBN’.

The CBN had In another circular signed by the Director in charge of Financial Markets, Dr. Alvan Ikoku, said it will begin the sale of forex on weekly basis to banks.

The statement explained that those who will benefit from PTA, which has been pegged at $4,000 per quarter , will be Nigerians from the age of 18 years, who hold Nigerian passports, account holders, including current tax clearance certificate.

The circular also stipulates that those requiring forex to pay school fees, the amount will not be more than $15,000 which will be given only to parents or guardians.