The persistent depreciation of the naira against major currencies especially the United States dollar may create another round of petrol scarcity, according to oil marketers interviewed by Punch.
The marketers said that sourcing for dollars to import petroleum products was becoming increasingly difficult, with most them turning to the parallel market for foreign exchange. One of the oil marketers interviewed told Punch that they buy a dollar for as high as N280 at the parallel market, because it was not easy to get the greenback at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official exchange rate of N197.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had earlier in January stopped the sale of forex to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators, one of the reasons being the activities of dubious BDC dealers who buy from the CBN at the official rate only to sell at a higher rate.
Here is what a major oil marketer had to say;
“Everybody is sourcing for forex; when you are lucky, you get it. But when luck is not on your side, you have to wait. Since the petrol import allocations usually lapse after three months, people often have the latitude to source for forex within the period. For example, the last allocations were given in December and so people had the latitude to source for the foreign exchange for about two months.
“The essence of giving the allocations ahead is also for you to plan. For instance, if you want to bring in three cargos, you can’t bring in all at once. Maybe you bring one in the first month, the second in the next month and the third cargo in the last month.
“But that’s under a normal circumstance where you have the forex. But now that you don’t have the forex, your cargo may have to stay for one or two months while you source for forex. This is not good for the business, especially if we must avoid petrol scarcity.”
Although the CBN announced that it permitted banks to receive forex deposits, but the marketers are complaining that deposit money banks were no more willing to give out Letters of Credit to oil marketers, except those who could provide guaranteed sources of forex.
Punch originally reported this article