The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele while speaking yesterday on new measures enacted by the bank to improve Remittance inflows into Nigeria, acknowledged that the estimated annual remittance inflow was close to $24 billion.
“Given the estimated annual remittance inflow of close to $24bn, which could help in improving our balance of payment position, reduce our dependence on external borrowing and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on foreign exchange inflows into the country, the CBN sought to find ways to support improved remittance inflows into the country through official channels,” Emefiele said.
It is an unexpected somersault however on the CBN’s earlier denial over the size of Diaspora Remittances.
Isaac Okoroafor, Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN in October 2019, had queried IMF and World Bank data that showed Diaspora Remittance to Nigeria being close to $26 billion annually, saying the real figure was actually closer to $2.6 billion.
According to Okoroafor, the 2018 data, purported to be from the World Bank, “had earlier, also, been queried by CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)”, because they did not reflect the actual amount of inflows from abroad.
Okoroafor therefore cynically noted that “we are looking for the so called $26 billion Diaspora cash, because such cash will impact positively on our reserve!”
Unfortunately for Okoroafor however, the Diaspora Remittance data being referenced by the IMF and World Bank, was actually published by the CBN in its own Balance of Payments (BoP) report, making critics to question the seeming dysfunction at the apex Bank.
Emefiele in his statement on Thursday touted the new policy initiative, which would help to boost remittance inflows and foster an environment that would enable faster, cheaper, and more convenient flow of remittances back to Nigeria.
According to the new policy, beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) shall receive such inflows in foreign currency (US Dollars) through designated banks of their choice.
The beneficiaries will also have the option of receiving the funds in cash or by direct credit in their ordinary domiciliary accounts.
It is gratifying that the CBN and Emefiele are finally seeing the light on IMTOs after many years of being in denial.