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21 Jul 2017

Nigerians Lambast Senate for Asking CBN to Give Dollars at N200 for Pilgrimage

The National Assembly has been heavily criticized by Nigerians following its latest decision directing the Central Bank to subsidize dollars for pilgrims.
The Nigerian Senate
Nigerians have lambasted the Senate on Thursday for asking the federal government to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to supply dollars at N200 to those going on pilgrimage either to Saudi Arabia or Israel.

This means that the government will subsidize foreign exchange for those planning to embark on the pilgrimage by about 37 per cent against the current official exchange rate of N315 to the dollar and N365 to the dollar at the parallel market.

The request ignores the provisions in the approved Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, covering all expenditure plans for 2017, and the Appropriation Act, which was earlier approved by the lawmakers, prior to the assent by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

According to Premium Times, Tope Fasua, an economist and Chief Executive Officer, Global Analytics Consulting Limited, said that conceding to such request would spell disaster to the economy.

“It will confirm that what happened last year was deliberate. It will definitely distort the market and create another confidence crisis.

“I hope it’s not true for it will show we are not serious as a country,” he said.

Also speaking, the lead director, Centre for Social Justice, CENSOJ, Eze Onyekpere blasted the National Assembly members saying they have lost touch with reality of the Nigerian situation.

“They do not seem to understand the state of the country’s economy. It is unthinkable that those who are supposed to make laws for our country are making such ridiculous demands, which is selfish to the extreme.

“Giving concession to those going on pilgrimage and ignoring the proposals in the medium term expenditure framework and the budget benchmark in the Appropriation Act is a crazy proposition.

“Anybody who makes such sentimental and senseless request should not be taken seriously. Pilgrimage is a personal thing. Anyone going to seek one’s salvation should look for his private money to fund his trip.

“Asking government to subsidise such trips violates the right of other Nigerians not interested in such jamboree,” Mr. Onyekpere said.

For Chief executive, Pan Africa Development Corporation, Odilim Enwegbara, the request is laughable. He said:“Even if they had such powers, the CBN is not in control of the exchange rate of the dollar. By virtue of the CBN floating exchange rate policy, the exchange rate is determined by market forces. Any intervention by the CBN is illegal.

“In any case, on what basis are they asking the CBN to allocate dollars for their private religious venture?

“If indeed it is true businesses are given dollars at N200, it is because they are adding value to the economy. What value is pilgrimage adding to the economy? The Senate should be called to order.”

“The National Chairman, Young Democratic, YDP, Ezekiel Nyaetok, said: “I think the tragedy of our nation is shortsightedness of our leaders and their penchant to go for cheap popularity, by emphasising what is clearly not sustainable.”

“Where the country is today, makes more sense to ensure that such spiritual exercises, if at all, should be local. This is a time for serious introspection and sober reflection.

“As much as possible, pilgrimage should be localised, at no cost whatsoever to government. Pilgrimage adds absolutely nothing to the solution to our present situation.

“Asking for subsidy for pilgrimage at a time government is looking for funds to revive our industries and create jobs for the people smacks of shallow thinking. This is the real tragedy I am talking about.”

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