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IMF cautions Nigeria against FX rationing as turnover falls 88%

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IMF cautions CBN The IMF has cautioned the CBN against dollar rationing stressing that this will hamper foreign trade and investor confidence and thus slow down the nation’s economic recovery. The warning is coming on the heels of 88 percent decline in volume of dollars traded in the Investors & Exporters (I&E). Window even as external reserves declined further to $33.44 billion as at April 28th 2020. The IMF gave this warning while reviewing the recent developments in the nation’s foreign exchange market against the country’s request for $3.4 billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) facility

In its report on Nigeria’s request titled: “Request for purchase under the Rapid Financing Instrument”, the IMF stated: “With reserves falling, staff welcomes recent steps taken by the CBN to allow greater flexibility in the Investors & Exporters (I&E) rate and narrow differences between various FX windows. With the spread across the various exchange rate windows now very narrow, this is also a good moment to immediately move to full and formal unification—e.g., by converging all foreign exchange windows to the I&E window. “This critical step to ensuring a well-functioning market would be helped by the CBN’s calibration of its foreign exchange sales in the market at a level commensurate with protecting central bank reserves while taking into account low international oil prices and reduced FX demand. “A unified and more flexible exchange rate will be an important shock absorber, especially in turbulent times— with CBN FX interventions limited to smoothing large fluctuations in the exchange rate. “Rationing of foreign exchange—such as occurred in 2015, with damaging consequences—must be avoided as it would hamper trade and investor confidence, hence further delaying the economic recovery once the crisis passes.” I&E window turnover falls 88% in April Vanguard analysis showed that the volume of dollars traded (turnover) in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the Nigerian foreign exchange market fell sharply to $873.96 million in April from $7.55 billion in March, 2020, indicating month-on-month (MoM) decline of 88 percent. This represents the first MoM decline in the volume of dollars traded (turnover) in the window since January 2020. Turnover in the window stood at $5.6 billion in January 2020 from where it rose by 31 percent to $7.34 billion in February. The upward trend continued in March where monthly turnover in the window rose by three percent to $7.55 billion. However, the trend changed when the volume of dollars traded in April fell by 88 percent to $873.96 million. Financial Vanguard analysis of weekly turnover in the window showed that $110.24 million was traded in the first week of April. Turnover rose by 144 percent to $269.09 million in the second week and down by 48 percent to $141.02 million in the third week. The turnover rose in the fourth week by 37 percent to $193.53 million and down by 17 percent to $160.08 million in the fifth week of April.

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