The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that the ministry is discussing with the Central Bank of Nigeria on reducing the gap between the official rate and the parallel market rate.
Ahmed’s comment is in line with the ongoing debates on the fate of the naira which is trading at N415.07 on the Investors’ and Exporter Forex Window and around N572 on the black market, controlled by the Bureau de Change Operators.
The gap between the rates is around N156.3 for every dollar.
The minister was asked to state her position on the recent comment made by vice president Yemi Osinbajo to devalue the naira to a more realistic rate.
Ahmed who spoke on the questions whether the ministry has active plans to follow Osinbajo’s recommendation or if it was working with the CBN, admitted that there are plans to accommodate the VP’s suggestion.
“We Are Working with the Central Bank to do that [move the official naira rate to a market based system],” Ahmed told Bloomberg Tv in a recent interview.
She continued, “For us it is a journey, it is not an event. It is our desire to be able to reduce the gap between the unofficial market rate and the official market rate.
“Again, what we have to do is to improve the sources of foreign exchange and right now the predominant source for us is oil and gas.
“So, when oil and gas revenues are not coming, as we projected or when we have huge expenditure in terms of subsidy, we have this problem of supply not being able to meet demand.
“With savings of up to 30 per cent of our foreign expenditure from the removal of the need to buy PMS from outside the country, we will have more FX and we will be able to meet the demand.”
Osinbanjo had stated during the Mid-term Ministerial Review that the disparity between the naira and dollar at the official and unofficial rate is wide.
He had said, “As for the exchange rate, we have to move our rates to a more reflective market as possible in my own respective view is the only way to improve supply.
“We can’t get new dollars in the system where the exchange rate is artificially low and everyone knows by how much our reserves can grow.