Indications emerged, yesterday, that banks in the country are now in a dilemma on what to do with an estimated $5 billion that is currently idle in their vaults. Banks, it was gathered, have their vaults full of dollars that they do not know how to dispose them. It is funds they can neither lend to other banks nor sell to CBN, and the only option open to them is to sell. Bank foreign exchange officers, said that as of today, no bank will buy dollar from anybody.
The source said it is not for any other thing but the fact that the banks have more than enough in their vaults. The dollars being sold by banks for BTA and PTA, they say, have no direct relationship with the foreign reserve, hence the marginal increase in the nation’s external reserve despite continued downward trend in crude oil prices.
Sources said banks have been pleading with the CBN to allow them sell off their dollar holdings when the apex bank could not supply enough dollars to fund customers’ request for BTA and PTA. It was learnt that when the CBN finally gave its nod recently, the banks immediately called on their customers and the public to buy Basic Travelling Allowance from designated banks and that there is more than $5 billion within the economy that are still in the hands of individuals outside the banking system.