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External reserves hit four-year high at $40.4bn – CBN

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The nation’s external reserves have hit a new level of $40.4bn, the Central Bank of Nigeria has stated.

The last time the foreign reserves hit the $40bn mark was January 2014, about five months before the crash in global oil prices. The foreign exchange reserves had reached a low of $23.6bn in October 2016.

In September 2008, the country’s foreign exchange reserves hit $62bn, with the Federal Government spending $12bn from it to settle external debts.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had at the Annual Bankers’ Dinner of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Lagos last November, projected that the foreign exchange reserves would hit the $40bn mark before the end of 2018.

In a statement on Monday, the apex bank stated that the external reserves reached $40.4bn on Friday, January 5, 2018.

This, it said, indicated an increase of about $1bn between December 2017 and January 2018.

The foreign exchange reserves, which stood at $38.765bn on December 29, 2017, rose to $39.074bn on January 4, data on the CBN website showed.

The reserves had risen by 50 per cent in the last one year to hit $38.73bn on December 28, 2017.

The foreign reserves gained $12.9bn between December 2016 and December 2017, according to the data.

Between January and October 2017, the reserves rose by $8bn, indicating a 30.9 per cent increase when it recorded $33.83bn on October 31.

Relative stability in the Niger Delta, uptick in the global oil prices, improvement in Diaspora remittances and establishment of the Investors and Exporters Foreign Exchange Window by the CBN in April 2017 have led to significant growth in the country’s external reserves, especially in the second half of last year.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, while confirming the latest development, attributed the accretion to the reserves to the central bank’s strategy of effectively managing forex demand by various sectors of the economy.

Citing the CBN policy restricting access to forex by importers of some 41 items as the major turning point, Okorafor said the policy had helped to stop the haemorrhaging of the country’s external reserves, which had witnessed heavy depletion due to huge import bills and other debt obligations.

According to him, the CBN policy has ensured a decline in Nigeria’s import bills from over $5bn monthly in 2015 to about $1.5bn in 2017.

He expressed optimism that with the determination of the regulator and the cooperation of the fiscal authorities, the external reserves would continue to enjoy more accretion in the course of 2018.

Meanwhile, the CBN injected a total of $210m into the interbank window of the foreign exchange market on Monday for requests in the wholesale, Small and Medium Enterprises and invisibles segments of the market.

A breakdown of the figure indicated that the CBN offered $100m to the wholesale sector, while the SMEs and invisibles windows each received $55m.

In his remarks on the nation’s external reserves, Emefiele had in November last year said, “It is my belief that if we remain resolute with our efforts, policies and actions, we can attain a foreign exchange reserves position of about $40bn by end of 2018.”

Emefiele had in December disclosed that the nation’s foreign reserves rose to $38.2bn with the issuance of Eurobonds by the Federal Government.

He described the external reserves figure as the highest in 39 months.

In November, the Federal Government raised $3bn through Eurobonds, which were oversubscribed by about $11bn and split across 10-year and 30-year tranches at issuance yield of 6.5 per cent and 7.625 per cent, respectively.

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