Release $717. 4m trapped airlines funds, Senate orders CBN

By Benjamin Arida://

Senate has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to release $717, 478, 606 airlines funds trapped in the country.

Specifically, the upper legislative chamber called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele to pay up the blocked funds to the affected airlines, adding that the federal government must urgently reverse the current trend of increasing airlines blocked funds in Nigeria.

It also called on the CBN to allocate $25 million to airlines operating in Nigeria at its forthrightly dollar auction. 

Similarly, the Senate appealed to the airlines operating in the country not to withdraw their services while efforts are on-going to resolve the issue.

These resolutions were sequel to the consideration of a motion titled: “Current Issues on airlines blocked funds in Nigeria” sponsored on Wednesday by the chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) during plenary. 

The motion was presented by the vice chairman of the committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South) on behalf of Olujimi, who noted that since January 2021, Nigeria has been the most challenging country in the world for the airlines to repatriate their funds to support their operation.

He said: “In February, Nigeria alone accounted for 44 per cent of total airlines blocked funds in the entire world.

“The total airlines blocked funds in Nigeria as at March amounted to $717,478,606, comprising matured bids that the CBN is yet to deliver, bids yet to mature and cash balances in airlines’ accounts for repatriation.

“The matured bids not delivered by CBN amounted to $186.5 million amounting for 26 per cent of total blocked funds while three stakeholders (IATA, Qatar Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines) accounted for 57 per cent of total blocked funds;

“A review of airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria in the last six months shows an average month-on-month increase of $49.3million 

“The consequences of these blocked funds are: Cheap tickets are not available in Nigeria because taxes and inflation would have eroded the profit when the funds are kept for a very long time.

“This makes tickets very expensive and limited because neighbouring countries get the cheap tickets because of prompt due to prompt repatriation of funds.”

Senators in their contribution supported the motion and voted to approve the prayers when they were put to voice vote by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

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