LONDON – Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has announced that $120m of trapped funds will be released to international carriers.
His announcement was made in a meeting with representatives of Nigerian officials, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), and others.
It is understood the $120m will be released on October 31, after a massive fight taking place over the Summer regarding the funds.
Emefiele: Doing Everything He Can?
He said the following on this:
“Everyone is calling on CBN to release blocked funds, and I am doing everything I can to provide dollars for you to repatriate your money”.
“We used our discretion to allocate $265 million to the foreign airlines, broken down into spot and forward. We did $110 million on the spot and the rest in 60 days forward.”
“On that day, we allocated to IATA $32 million through UBA. Qatar Airways, $22.8 million through Standard Chartered; Emirates, $19.6 million through Access Bank; British Airway, $5.5 million through GTB; Virgin Atlantic, $4.8 million through Zenith and others.”
“How then can they go about and begin to say that they have not received money? This is an extra allocation. This is something I have told you (foreign airlines) that we will continue to do so that you will not blackmail the country. $120 million will be due on the 31 of October.”
“I can print naira, even though I have been accused of printing naira, but I cannot print dollar. We have to either earn it or borrow it,”
“When you allow Nigerian airlines to fly in your country, what the airlines will do is charge naira as we expect foreign airlines to charge.”
“You cannot be flying 21 flights into Nigeria, and you do not allow Nigerian airlines to land in your country, and when they land, you intimidate them with sniffer dogs and do not allow them to carry out maintenance checks”.
A Good Start: Is It Enough?
With the $120m payout being stated as a good start, IATA wants the officials in Nigeria to go further than this.
It is understood that around $700m is trapped overall, with IATA representative Samson Fatokun calling for a timeline on repayment:
“What we have right now is $700 million — our balance is $700 million. The airlines are reasonable by saying that [you] give us a plan for repatriation”.
At the moment, Nigeria is in a corner due to the forex exchange crisis, with the federal government hesitant to release further funds as it could cripple the country further.
It remains clear that more needs to be done by the governor, including providing some form of a timeline to the airlines that are still asking for their hard-earned money.
The forex exchange crisis is clearly putting a strain on decision-making, as confirming any timetables could provide further detriment to the economy in the short term.
Either way, it’s a difficult blend of problems to tackle, but the $120m is a good start for the country to begin paying such stakeholders moving forward.