ABUJA May 3 Nigeria's central bank has
suspended several lenders from its weekly spot and forward
interventions because they had made it difficult for small firms
to access foreign exchange, it said.
Last month the central bank cut the amount of paperwork
small firms require to buy dollars, to improve the ease of doing
business and help narrow the gap between official and black
market exchange rates.
It said it will offer them up to $20,000 per
The lenders were meant to sell dollars bought from the
central bank to small firms to enable them import eligible
finished and semi-finished goods but they declined, spokesman
Isaac Okorafor said in a statement.
Okorafor said the regulator took action based on field
reports which showed that only eight lenders sold foreign
exchange to small firms since the start of the window in April.
Nigeria has 22 commercial lenders.
Nigeria runs a system of multiple exchange rates and has
created different exchange rates for various customer
categories. Okorafor said the bank has used the convoluted
system to eliminate "frivolous demand" for foreign
"The action will be lifted immediately any of the affected
banks show evidence of significant utilization of the fund
allocated to them under the SME window," he said.
The naira was quoted weaker on Wednesday at an investor
trading window, at 382.33 per dollar, data from market regulator
FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange showed. The official market rate
was 305.80 and the black market rate 391.
Okorafor said the bank sold a total of $196.2 million into
the currency markets on Tuesday, including $52 million to small
firms and $44.2 million to individuals with certain foreign
expenses such as school fees and medical bills.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha)