The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has debunked claims in certain quarters suggesting that prospective pilgrims have been granted concessionary foreign exchange rate for the 2016 pilgrimage.
This is contained in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday by the bank’s acting Director of Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor.
According to the statement, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said there was no preferential exchange rate of any sort to intending pilgrims.
He clarified that laid down procedure was followed in arriving at the exchange rate for the pilgrims.
“What is obtainable is that every year, prior to the commencement of the pilgrimage, the commission, both Christian and Muslims, approach the CBN to agree on the exchange rate for the personal travel allowance (PTA) for that particular year.
“In this case is between 750 dollars and 1,000 dollars per pilgrim,” he said.
He further explained that the agreement to sell foreign exchange to the pilgrims at the rate of N197 to the Dollar was reached as far back as April 2016 at the prevailing rate then.
According to the CBN Governor, this particular agreement is applicable to both intending Christian and Muslim pilgrims.
He said afterwards, the pilgrims would go ahead to make commitment by way of advanced payment through their various states pilgrims’ welfare boards for onward transmission to National Hajj Commission or Christian Pilgrims Commission as the case might be.
“In this particular case, the market rate prevailed.
” Hence, with the commencement of the flexible exchange rate policy, market determined rates would continue to serve as the bases for foreign exchange for pilgrimage or any form of PTA in the country,” he said.
While likening the request for PTA for pilgrimage of tourism as a valid transaction, Mr Emefiele said that the CBN as a responsible organisation could not renege on agreements or contracts entered into for whatever business transactions.
He therefore appealed to members of the public to exercise restraint in their comments in order not to cause unnecessary and avoidable disaffection among the public.