ABUJA Feb 16 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s top state advisory body on Thursday demanded an urgent review of the central bank’s foreign exchange policy.
The naira fell to a record low on the parallel market this week, trading at 507 a dollar. That compares with the official rate at around 305, a gap that is discouraging investment from overseas and leaving Nigeria starved of foreign currency.
Financial institutions have argued that Nigeria must allow its currency to float freely to solve its foreign exchange woes, a measure which has met opposition from President Muhammadu Buhari.
“(National Economic) Council members generally expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate and called for an urgent review of the current forex policy, especially the gap between interbank and the parallel market rates,” Silas Ali Agara, deputy governor of Nasarawa state, after the council met.
He added the central bank governor had told the body, which comprises Nigeria’s 36 federal states, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other ministers, that patience was needed but that the situation was under control.
The NEC’s decisions are not binding but with all states, key ministers and the central bank governor assembled, government and parliament usually take into account their recommendations.
Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, who also took part in the meeting, also said Nigeria’s excess crude account, a rainy day fund, stood at $2.46 billion as of Feb. 15, in line with figures previously reported by the government.
Adeosun said to the council had decided inject $250 million from the account to the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Sovereign Investment Authority (SIA) which had been established in 2011 with $1 billion of capital in an effort to manage oil export revenues.
The fund is split into three components, a “Stabilisation Fund” to act as a buffer against economic turbulence, an Infrastructure Fund and a Future Generations fund. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Alison Williams)
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