Forex: CBN opens special window for SMEs

By Omodele Adigun and Uche Usim, Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opened a special Forex window for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enable an enterprise import eligible finished and semi-finished items not exceeding $20,000 per quarter.

The apex bank’s spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, who disclosed this on Monday,explained that the bank’s special intervention was necessitated by its findings that a large number of SMEs were being crowded out of the forex space by large firms.

According to him, “the sum of $20,000 per SME customer per quarter can be effected by telegraphic transfer, subject to completion of Form M, supported with proforma Invoice and the importer’s Bank Verification Number (BVN).

Continuing, he said all processing banks are to ensure that the importers submit relevant shipping documents not later than 60 days from the date of the transfer.

Information posted on the CBN website defines Small and Medium Scale Enterprises as enterprises that have asset base (excluding land) of between N5 million and N500 million, and a labour force of between 11 and 300.

Okorafor explained that the bank had begun the massive sale of forex in different sectors this week. Yesterday, the apex bank intervened by offering $100 million to authorized dealers at the forex auction in the interbank wholesale window. It also sold $10,000 each to BDCs to meet the needs of low-end users in the country.

The spokesman said that the dealers in the wholesale segment will have value for their respective bids today, Tuesday,adding that about $99.5million was picked up by dealers out of the $100 million offered during the last wholesale auction last Thursday.

Meanwhile, operators in the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment have duly funded their accounts with the CBN in anticipation of picking up the dollar equivalent ($10,000) on today. Feelers also indicated that the CBN may continue its special intervention in the market with the sale of more dollars to BDCs  in the course of the week.

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