In what appears to be an attempt to incentivize dollar remittances by all means possible, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released a circular to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), International Money Transfer Operators (IMTO), and the General Public, advising that remittances paid into a bank account will attract an additional credit alert for every USD$1 received!
Yes, you read that correctly. The CBN will facilitate a special additional credit alert of N5 for every USD$1 received. In other words,
- if someone sends you $10,000, you get an additional special credit alert for N50,000.
- If someone sends you $100,000, you get an additional special credit alert for N500,000.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible, the diaspora remittances need to be processed and received from one of the registered IMTOs and funds received into a Bank account operated by the DMBs. (So, if you are receiving funds via Crypto sorry you are not eligible).
Additionally, the circular says this “incentive runs from Monday 8th March 2021 to Saturday 8th May 2021″. So, if you have plans to receive dollars, you can plan accordingly.
The circular is not clear how exactly the commercial banks will know which account to pay the extra special credits into. Although, that may be a question diaspora funds recipients will need to ask their DMB accounts officers to clarify for them.
How will this be funded?
The circular notes that the “CBN shall through commercial banks, pay to recipients the N5 incentive for every USD$1”. In other words, it is the CBN funding the cost of this special extra credit.
- One would argue that given the costs of alternative incentives to attract dollars such as the special OMO window for FPI, this may be a cheaper alternative for the CBN.
- But we will need to see the volume of expected remittance to be certain of that. Nigeria attracts about $5billion per quarter in remittances and only trails oil in terms of foreign earnings.
Why this matter to Nigerians?
Following the collapse of US Dollar inflows into the country, the CBN initially tried to balance its current account deficits and avoid an official devaluation by tackling FOREX demand (Think ban of 41 items, etc).
- However, in recent times, CBN is now trying to address the challenge of FOREX supply. In 2019, CBN restricted OMO bills for FPIs, and this year, CBN directed all IMTOs to discontinue the practice of not remitting dollars into the country but keeping it overseas and sending Naira.
- Also, the IEFX rate has been allowed to continually diverge from the official rate. As at close of business on Friday 5th March 2021, the IEFX rate of N412.50 is 8.8% premium to the official rate of N379.
- Some may point out that, if the CBN is looking to have ordinary Nigerians enjoy some benefits from its ongoing FX subsidy largesse then maybe that is “arguably” more palatable than the prior focus on FPIs.
Finally, this short-term Naira-4-Dollar scheme will not be called an official Naira Devaluation. But a question is what do we call the new short-term price of N412.50 + N5.00? Maybe we can call it Naira Modulation.