Senate Rejects Bill To Punish Private Ownership Of Forex

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The Nigerian Senate has said that it will not support the moves by some government agencies to introduce a controversial bill banning people from owning foreign exchange.

A recommendation by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission is seeking for a review of the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Act in order to empower the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to jail people for up to two years or fine them for 20 percent of the amount of the foreign currency held in their possession for more than 30 days.

But in a statement issued on Monday, Senate’s spokesman, Aliyu Sabi, expressed surprise at the recommendation which he said could further erode investor’s confidence in the Nigerian economy.

He said in the statement that “such move as proposed by the Commission that will prevent investors from making free entry and free exit from the market will be outrightly rejected by its members.”

The statement read in part: “The measure is disruptive and counter-productive, threatening to undermine many of the reform efforts already underway in the legislature and by government ministries intended to boost investor confidence.

“The Senate would never pass such a punitive and regressive proposal. Overall, some of the Commission’s recommendation have many sound attributes and could help Nigeria’s investment climate.

“We believe the CBN should have the authority to regulate the forex market and determine the exchange rate policy as already enshrined in its enabling Act.”

Sabi further stated that “a market-oriented exchange rate policy is the best recipe for guiding the operations of the foreign exchange market” adding that it will “ensure the supremacy of market mechanisms in efficiently allocating the scarce forex resources.”

The Senate added that it will continue to work with the Executive in order to bring the recession to an end and return the country to economic growth.”

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