5000 Travel Agencies Threatened Over $812m Airlines’ Funds’ - DAILY TRUST
JANUARY 20, 2024
By Abdullateef Aliyu, (Lagos) And Philip Shimnom Clement (Abuja)
There was more worry yesterday over the foreign airlines’ trapped funds now estimated at $812m with a stakeholder in the downstream sector of the aviation sector saying over 5000 travel agencies may be deeply affected.
Group Managing Director, Dees Travels and Tours Limited, Mr. Daisi Olotu in a chat with newsmen yesterday said the recent $61m released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) falls short of what is being owed.
Daily Trust reports that pressure has continued to mount over the unresolved issue of airlines’ trapped funds.
The foreign airlines are already threatening to exit Nigeria or downscale their operations as the trapped funds increase on a daily basis.
According to Olotu, “Immediate action is crucial to prevent further deterioration of the aviation industry and its alarming effect on the country’s economy.”
Quoting a data from Statistica released in October 2021, he pointed out that Nigeria has over 5,000 travel agencies, adding, “Imagine the number of Nigerians who will be out of jobs as a result adding to the already overpopulated labour market.
“Additionally, the government stands to lose substantial revenue from taxes paid by these agencies adding to the economic crises the country is facing.
“It is against this backdrop that we appeal to the Nigerian government to find ways to resolve this problem. The release of $61 million falls short of the $812 million trapped funds,” he said.
CBN to continue settlement of verified FX backlog
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said that in its bid to clear the backlog of outstanding foreign exchange liabilities, paid approximately $2.0 billion across various sectors, including manufacturing, aviation, and petroleum.
The apex Bank has also cleared up the entire liability of 14 banks and started settlements with foreign airlines.
The CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday, explained that the Bank had commissioned an independent forensic review by a reputable firm.
She noted that the review revealed grave infractions, gross abuse, and significant non-compliance with market regulations, adding that appropriate sanctions would be enforced in collaboration with relevant agencies.
She said the CBN will continue to settle the legitimate foreign exchange backlog as it has consistently been doing in the last three months.