By Damilare Adeleye
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied report that it was planning to convert $30bn domiciliary deposits to naira.
There had been reports that in a bid to rescue the depreciation of naira, the Federal Government was considering a policy that will result in the conversion of foreign currencies in domiciliary accounts of citizens to naira.
Top Presidency sources had reportedly said the move was meant to stabilise the naira, which recorded its biggest fall in the official Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market on Monday, depreciating by 24 per cent to close at N1,348 per dollar.
A presidential source was quoted as saying, “The problem of dollar scarcity is an elite problem. You will notice that this happens at the end and the beginning of a new month. That is when the exchange rate goes up. Invariably, that is when governors collect FAAC (Federal Account Allocation Committee) allocations. Whatever the connection, we don’t know.
“There is no country in the world where people open domiciliary accounts to keep dollars. It happens only in Nigeria. This must be addressed. This is not only a political issue, but it is also an economic issue that must be addressed. Genuine demands driven by economic activities can’t bring this huge pressure. By June, dollar demands are supposed to have gone down when Dangote Refinery must have started.
“Nobody should keep a domiciliary account if they do not have legitimate foreign currency earnings like salary or getting foreign exchange revenue, either as an individual or as a company. Even if you have foreign exchange inflow as a result of your work, immediately after the money lands in your account, the banks should automatically change it to the local currency and your local currency account will be credited with the equivalent value.
“In Nigeria today, there are over $30bn in domiciliary accounts of individuals. It is in the CBN account. The records are there. It is not right. These are issues we will have to deal with. In other countries, dollars are not meant to stay in peoples’ accounts.”
Reacting via a terse statement, the CBN refuted the reports, describing it as fake news.
It said: “No plans to convert $30bn domiciliary deposits to naira. This news is fake!”