Foreign Airlines operating in the country have applauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the clearance of the backlog of part of the foreign exchange they could not repatriate to their country as part of revenue from ticket sales.
The carriers speaking under the aegis of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), said the clearance is a sigh of relief for operators and those carrying out flight services into and out of the country.
AFARN’s president, Kingsley Nwokoma, urged the CBN to adopt a quarterly payment plan for the remaining $ 700 million trapped fund with the apex regulatory and other Nigerian commercial banks.
Nwokoma said: “We thank the government for listening and doing it little by little but we hope they can do more or have an arrangement with the airline for quarterly payment that will be perfect.
“A systematic type of payment of every quarter will help defray the backlog and we can also get it behind us once and for all.”
Also speaking, the Head of Financial Institutions Ratings at Agusto & Co, Ayokunle Olubunmi, said the clearance of trapped funds and foreign exchange forwards would improve the value of the Naira.
“To be fair to the current CBN management, they have been trying their best and they have been trying to clear the backlog of FX demand and matured FX forward and they have been trying to get them paid.”
Olubunmi, further stated that the payment would boost investor confidence as they can easily repatriate their funds.
Recall that the CBN had fulfilled its pledge to clear the backlog of foreign exchange owed foreign airlines in the country as it concluded the payment of all verified claims by airlines with an additional $64.44 million to the concerned airlines.
Acting director of corporate communications at the CBN, Mrs Hakama Ali said the latest amount paid to the airlines brought the total verified amount paid to the sector to $136.73 million.
In a statement that was issued on Tuesday, she said all the verified airline claims had now been cleared.
According to her, CBN Governor Olayemi Cardoso, and his team were doubly committed and would stop at nothing to ensure that the verified backlog of payments across all other sectors was cleared and confidence was restored in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
She also assured that the CBN was working with stakeholders to ensure liquidity improves within the forex market, thereby reducing pressure on the Naira.
While expressing optimism that the market would respond positively with the latest injection of over $64 million, she admonished actors in the foreign exchange market to guard against speculation as such actions could hurt the Naira.
Said, therefore, urged the public to support the reforms in the foreign exchange market, adding that the CBN would continue to promote orderliness and professional conduct by all participants in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market to ensure market forces determine exchange rates.