The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sold foreign exchange amounting to $17.02billion to authorised dealers between January and August this year, findings by New Telegraph show. A breakdown of the forex data obtained from the apex bank shows that it supplied a total of $13.98 billion to authorised in the first half of the year and a total of $3.04billion in the months of July and August.
This means that the CBN sold a combined total of forex amounting to $17.02billion for the first eight months of 2020. Significantly, the data indicates that when compared to 2019 figures, the CBN’s forex sales only increased in Q1’20, as the sharp drop in the price of oil-the commodity that accounts for about 90 per cent of the country’s export earnings- coupled with the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, resulted in a significant decline in external reserves, thereby limiting the amount the regulator could inject into the forex market to ensure exchange rate stability.
For instance, in its 2020 Half Year Economic Report released last week, the CBN stated: “The precautious level of economic activities hampered foreign exchange supply to authorised dealers. Total foreign exchange supply to authorised dealers by the Bank stood at $13.98 billion, indicating a decline of 15.3 per cent each, below the levels in the preceding half year and the corresponding half of 2019, respectively. “Of the total, inter-bank sales amounted to $0.38 billion, compared with $0.62 billion and $0.81 billion in the preceding six months and the corresponding period of 2019, respectively.
At the Bureaux De Change (BDC) segment, total sales declined to $3.63 billion in the review period, compared with $6.75 billion and $6.86 billion in the preceding half year and corresponding period of 2019, respectively, due to the temporary suspension of sales to the segment as international travels were grounded. “Foreign exchange sales under the Secondary Market Intervention Scheme (SMIS) and to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) declined by 7.6 per cent and 31.0 per cent to $3.16 billion and $0.57 billion, respectively, from their levels in the preceding half year.
Sales to the Investors and Exporters’ ( I&E) window rose by 27.6 per cent to $6.24 billion, compared with the levels in the preceding six months and the corresponding period of 2019, respectively.” Similarly, the regulator’s July 2020 economic report read in part: “In order to allow the foreign exchange market to be driven by market fundamentals, the Bank made no intervention at the BDC segment for the fourth consecutive months.
Similarly, the Bank suspended sales at I&E window, and wholesale forward intervention in the month of July 2020. “As a result, the total amount of foreign exchange sold by the Bank to authorized dealers decreased by 8.6 per cent to $1.39 billion in July 2020 from $1.52 billion in June 2020. Foreign exchange intervention in the SMIS, SME and interbank sales decreased by 27.1, 13.6 and 29.2 per cent, to $0.64 billion, $0.09 billion and $0.05 billion, respectively, in July 2020, below the levels in the preceding month. However, matured swaps transactions rose by 40.9 per cent to $0.61 billion in July 2020 from $0.43 billion in the preceding month.”
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Likewise, the CBN’s August 2020 economic report states that “the gradual reopening of major economies in the world impacted the demand side of the foreign exchange market in August 2020. Hence the Bank, through its periodic interventions in the foreign exchange market, continued to augment the supply side of the market, in a bid to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19. “The total foreign exchange supplied to authorised dealers stood at $1.65 billion, indicating an increase of 19.1 per cent over the level in the preceding month, but a decline of 55.9 per cent below its level in the corresponding period of 2019.
Of the total, interbank sales amounted to $0.04 billion, compared with $0.05 billion and $0.09 billion in the preceding and the corresponding period of 2019, respectively. “During the review month, foreign exchange supply under the Secondary Market Intervention Scheme (SMIS) increased by 21.7 per cent to $0.78 billion, while intervention in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) increased by 3.1 per cent to $0.09 billion.
In addition, the Bank resumed sales to the I&E window, amounting to $0.13 billion, in contrast to nil sale in the preceding month. As in the preceding period, there was no sale of foreign exchange to the BDC segment during the review period. The bank, however, announced the resumption of sales to the BDCs, effective September 7, 2020.” Citing the CBN’s “Annual Activity Report 2019,” Saturday Telegraph had reported at the weekend that the banking watchdog made total foreign exchange sales of $23.9billion last year as part of measures to ensure exchange rate stability.
The report showed that total forex sales in 2019, was $1.8billion less than the amount ($25.7billion) it sold in the previous year. The regulator attributed the lower sales it made in the foreign exchange market in 2019, compared to 2018’s, to the increased level of activity at the I&E window. Specifically, the CBN said that in 2019, total forex sales stood at $23.9billion, comprising $13.1billion as spot and $10.8billion forwards. According to the report, “the spot sales comprised $6,038.40 million at the I&E window, $4,267.16 million at the inter-bank, $1,674.00 million for SMEs and $1,123.10 million for invisibles. On the other hand, the bank purchased $11,043.78 million. Thus, net sales by the bank amounted to $12,841.23 million. The sum of $10,078.01 million matured at the forwards, while $3,481.64 million remained outstanding at end-December 2019.”