In a significant development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has officially fulfilled its commitment to settle the entire outstanding foreign exchange (FX) owed to foreign airlines operating in the country.
The latest and final tranche of $64.44 million has been disbursed, bringing the total payments to airlines to $136.73 million, effectively eliminating all verified claims within the aviation sector.
Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, confirmed the completion of payments on Tuesday, stating,
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, fulfilling its pledge to clear the backlog of foreign exchange owed foreign airlines in the country, has concluded the payment of all verified claims by airlines with an additional $64.44 million to the concerned airlines.”
This accomplishment reflects the CBN’s dedication to resolving outstanding FX obligations across various sectors. Mrs. Sidi Ali highlighted the unwavering commitment of Governor Olayemi Cardoso and the CBN team to clearing the entire backlog, aiming to restore confidence in the market. The successful payment to the airline sector marks a significant milestone in achieving this objective.
Beyond addressing existing debts, the CBN is actively collaborating with stakeholders to enhance liquidity within the FX market, with the goal of alleviating pressure on the Naira. Mrs. Sidi Ali expressed optimism that the recent injection of $64 million would positively impact the market but cautioned against speculative practices, urging market participants to maintain responsible behavior.
“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,” reads the CBN statement.
To ensure long-term stability, the CBN seeks public support for its foreign exchange market reforms. Mrs. Sidi Ali called upon Nigerians to endorse these efforts, emphasizing the bank’s commitment to promoting orderliness and professional conduct among all participants. This approach, she explained, would enable market forces to naturally determine exchange rates, fostering a more sustainable and efficient system.
The recent settlement of airline debts by the CBN, coupled with its commitment to addressing the broader FX backlog, provides a glimmer of hope for restoring confidence in the Nigerian foreign exchange market. However, addressing concerns, enhancing transparency, and collaborating with stakeholders, including airlines like Emirates, are crucial steps in repairing strained relationships, preventing future disruptions, and achieving a full market recovery.