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‘School fees, medicals remain eligible for forex’

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the weekend said it has not stopped the allocation and sale of Foreign Exchange for purposes of paying school fees and settlement of medical bills overseas.

A statement issued by the apex bank and signed by Ibrahim Muazu, Director, Corporate Communications, urged “members of the public to disregard any contrary information in respect thereof.”

Muazu lamented that “despite assurances from the CBN, some persons have continued to suggest that the Bank had stopped the allocation of Foreign Exchange to Nigerians seeking to pay school fees and medical bills overseas. The Bank urges members of the public to discountenance such misinformation.”

Read also: Forex policy: Buhari got it wrong –Sanusi

The CBN added that “all genuine users desiring to obtain foreign exchange for the above-mentioned purposes are hereby urged to freely approach their banks with their requests and appropriate documentation.”

Addressing journalists at the end of the bankers’ committee meeting in Abuja last week, Herbert Wigwe, Managing director of Access bank disclosed that “our deliberations today did not agree on any final position but one thing was clear, which was the fact that we should not allow this demand to crowd out real sector investment because in any event, the money that you use to pay these school fees is from industry that is working locally.”

Wigwe added that we should “revisit the educational system and make sure our children go to school locally. Why can’t we revisit the health care system to make sure it works better; why must we spend tons of money allowing people spend money on children’s school fees overseas or medical tourism as they call it.”

The idea which is still on the drawing board he revealed “is not that you can’t do it, the point is that you cannot access it from the CBN’s limited resources, we did not reach any formal conclusion on it, but that is the general direction that we are headed.”

Echoing Wigwe’s views on the impending development, Mrs Bola Adesola, Managing Director of Standard Chartered bank, stated that “a bit more looking at the numbers and data will happen before the CBN ultimately comes to a decision but the autonomous market is out there.”

She noted that “it is not about sending your children to schools abroad or not doing medicals abroad, people are free to move, there is freedom of movement and freedom to spend what they want to spend but the issue is that if we have those scarce resource for which the pool into the revenue is depleting, we have to take those really hard and tough decisions today to ensure that our future is guaranteed.”

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