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Experts knock CBN, blame bank over aviation crisis

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CBN Governor, Godwin EmefieleAviation experts have advised the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow foreign airlines access to their funds.

The Federal Government of Nigeria, a few days ago, bowed to pressure from foreign airlines after a number of them raised the alarm over FG’s inability to allow them access to their revenues in the country, which was said to be around $450 million.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, on Friday, released $265 million to foreign airlines operating in the country for the remittance of a part of their revenues trapped in the country.

Emirates Airlines announced that it would suspend all flights to Nigeria from September 1, 2022, over its stuck $95 million.

The Head of Research & Corporate Travel at Zenith Traval & Consul, Olumide Ohunayo said, “Well, they’re not doing them a favour. What happens is that you’ve paid them what you owe them, but what does the rule say? The rule says that at every day of sales after the airlines have paid their local taxes and charges, the remaining revenue should be remitted based on the exchange rate for that day.

“So, delaying it for some time gives us a bad name and makes our credit worthiness in the international market doubtful.  It doesn’t give us a good rating. It’s not a favor that they have done, it was face-saving because after the Emirates’ letter, British Airways and others had begun to issue subtle threats to withdraw their services or limit their frequencies. I think that was what they acted upon.”

“ The CBN did not block access to the funds, it only did not facilitate the remittance because the funds are in those bank accounts in Nigeria. But of what value is the naira to them when they need the money for their operations and reportage back at home? So, under the bilateral agreement, you’re supposed to remit their funds to their country based on the official exchange rate, not black markets as at the day of operation.”

A former Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and President/CEO of Top Brass Aviation, Roland Iyayi, said, “Ideally, when you sign a bilateral agreement or a multilateral agreement with another country, their foreign airlines or designated airlines are allowed to operate into your country. The bilateral or multilateral agreement actually enjoins clauses in there. It provides that each carrier must be able to repatriate their funds and also avoid double taxation, that’s what the bilateral says. So, by the Central Bank of Nigeria helping to repatriate their funds, it’s not a favour, it’s an obligation.”

Also, the Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult and aviation expert, John Ojikutu, said, “They are not doing any favour to foreign airlines. If foreign airlines stay away from us, the aviation industry in this country will collapse. But because we don’t tell the truth to ourselves, and like I always say, 80 per cent of our earnings in aviation are from the foreign airlines. The money they pay us for service charge, for landing and parking, for every other thing, passenger service keep us going. The CBN is not part of the BASSA Agreement. Those who are part of the agreement are ministries of foreign affairs, aviation and Justice. Those are ones that signed it.

“We are legally bound in BASSA to allow them take their money out of this country in dollars. We are legally bound and those who sit down in the Ministry of Aviation know that. There’s a kind of unilateral decision in so many things they do here. We should be making a lot of money from them. There’s a lot of money and the commercial agreement money they should be giving us is in dollars. So when they told you they want to take their money out of this country, when they pay us, calculate it, you remove their money from all these money.

“We are duty-bound, legally-bound to allow them take their money earned in this country out because they pay us in dollars. So, what we should do is to look for the dollar they paid us, give to CBN and allow CBN to take their money out.”

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