OrderPaperToday– The House of Representatives joint committees on Diaspora, Banking and Currency, National Planning and Economic Development has raised alarm over discrepancies in the figures of Nigerian Diaspora remittances.
Chairperson of the cocommittee, Mrs. Tolulope Akande Sadipe (APC, Oyo), noted that while records of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) show $10 billion Nigeria diaspora remittances, World Bank records showed that $26 billion was the actual amount.
She noted that the actual diaspora remittances in Nigeria has been a subject of controversy, saying Nigerians should look inwards and imagine the case of India repeating itself in the country.
According to Sadipe, “In today’s world, diaspora citizens contribute a critical component of the nations development through the deployment of their diverse competencies, which includes but is not limited to cash remittances, investment and technical activities. In 2017, Nigeria was the leading nation in diaspora remittances. It is high time that we made our nation a priority in all our decisions.
“Sadly, the actual diaspora remittances remain a subject of controversy and its impact in the economy is yet to be felt or seen.”
The lawmakers also queried the loss of $36.6 as chargeable fees on every $200 remitted through official International Monetary Transfer
Organisations (IMTOs) licensed by the apex bank, as well as inactivity of 50 out of the 65 licensed IMTOs transfer of forex to Nigeria.
“More worrisome is the alleged high cost of charges on the diaspora remittances,” she added.
On his part, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by Mrs. Nnaji Ozoemena, CBN’s director, Trade and Exchange, confirmed the discrepancies as observed by the committee, while explaining that the $10 billion was remitted between 2014 and to date through the IMTO with 5,000 Bureau de Change operators (BDCOs) licensed by the apex bank.
He also explained that the World Bank takes account of physical cash transfers and other imported items such as cars, hence the discrepancy in remittance figures.
Emefiele also added that the policy on conversion of foreign currencies to naira was aimed at helping to stabilise monetary policy, defend the naira, effective management of forex and to encourage investment inflows into the country.
The CBN boss added that the approved rate on
conversion of dollar to naira is between N355 to N357.
In his presentation, BDCs president, Mr. Aminu Gwadabe, called for liberalisation of CBN’s policy to enable transfer of forex by the BDCs.
Mr. Sule Bassey, secretary, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) collaborated the concerns raised by the committee at the investigative hearing.
“I 100% endorse the opening statement of the chairman of this committee, the issue of diaspora bond remittances is very key because it can drive development.
” The wuru, wuru and magu magu going on in the remittances of these funds is something worrisome. These banks end up shortchanging customers by giving them the money in local currencies instead of in foreign currencies, thereby shortchanging them with over 20% of their initial sum.”
Recall that the committees were mandated by the House to probe total remittances by Nigerians in Diaspora in the past 3 years.
This followed the adoption of a motion “to ascertain Nigeria in Diaspora remittances and its impact on the nation’s economy” in November 2019.
After a much heated deliberation, the committee resolved to conduct public hearings in all 36 states of the federation so as to interact with people in rural areas who are the core beneficiaries of the funds.