Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed that the Federal Government will disburse $120 million to international airlines plying the Nigerian routes next Monday, October 31, to partly offset their trapped funds in the country.
The governor disclosed that the decision was taken at a meeting between the leadership of the House of Representatives, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), and government representatives led by the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.
Emefiele who spoke at the meeting, said international airlines’ trapped funds in the country would be disbursed in tranches starting from next Monday, October 31.
He explained: “Everyone is calling on CBN to release blocked funds, and I am doing everything I can to provide dollars for you to repatriate your money.
“We used our discretion to allocate $265 million to the foreign airlines, broken down into spot and forward. We did $110 million on the spot and the rest in 60 days forward.
“On that day, we allocated to IATA $32 million through UBA. Qatar Airways, $22.8 million through Standard Chartered; Emirates, $19.6 million through Access Bank; British Airway, $5.5 million through GTB; Virgin Atlantic, $4.8 million through Zenith and others.
“How then can they go about and begin to say that they have not received money? This is an extra allocation. This is something I have told you (foreign airlines) that we will continue to do so that you will not blackmail the country. $120 million will be due on the 31 of October”, Emefiele added.
While urging foreign airlines operating in the country to respect the Bilateral Aviation Services Agreement (BASA) in order to address the problem of un-repatriated funds, the apex bank governor stressed that it was undesirable for the foreign carriers to resort to “blackmail” against the country because of their trapped funds.
The governor further clarified: “I can print Naira, even though I have been accused of printing Naira, but I cannot print dollar. We have to either earn it or borrow it.
“When you allow Nigerian airlines to fly in your country, what the airlines will do is charge Naira as we expect foreign airlines to charge.
“You cannot be flying 21 flights into Nigeria and you do not allow Nigerian airlines to land in your country and when they land, you intimidate them with sniffer dogs and do not allow them to carry out maintenance checks.”