Last week commercial banks sent emails to their customer informing them that further restrictions has been placed in the use of their debit cards abroad. The restriction you got depends on the bank that you use. Some banks out rightly banned usage till further notice while some reduced the amount you can spend yearly.
These decision nevertheless led to the highest depreciation of the naira against the dollar hitting an all time high of N280. While Nigerians were moaning the state of the economy, the CBN was loving it according to reports in the media. CBN Director for Monetary operations, Moses Tule suggested things were probably going according to plan for the CBN when he remarked that
“It is a healthy development where Nigerians can no longer use debit cards abroad, though it is inconvenient. Right now the country is going through very difficult times because of developments in the oil market. Foreign exchange under the condition Nigeria has found itself, has become a seasonal commodity in the sense that it depends on the movement of the price of oil.
It is clear from the above that the CBN is happy with the way things are going as they believe what is more important to them is to reduce if not stop the spate at which Nigerians love the green back. The CBN has embarked on a demand side management of the dollar this year as the Nations reserve continue to plummet. Rather than devalue the Naira again or go for the more pragmatic approach of letting the currency float they believe controlling the demand for the dollar via various policy restrictions is the way forward. They have also though it best to prioritize who and who gets the dollars. Moses Tule again
“Our priorities as a nation for the use of foreign exchange are: 1) for the settlement of matured Letters of Credit (LCs) opened for importation; 2) for the importation of petroleum products until such a time either when we have our refineries fully operational and; 3) for the importation of raw materials.
If you do not belong to this class of people who need dollars then the message is loud and clear from the CBN.