LAGOS Dec 19 Nigeria's central bank on Monday
asked banks to submit bids for a "special currency auction" to
clear the backlog of matured outstanding dollar obligations for
selected sectors of the economy, traders said on Monday.
The central bank instructed commercial lenders to submit
backlog dollar demand from fuel importers, airlines, raw
materials and machinery for manufacturing firms and agricultural
chemicals by 1500 GMT for a special forex intervention.
Nigeria is in its first recession in 25 years, caused by
low global oil prices which have cut the supply of dollars
needed to fund imports. Attacks by militants on pipelines in the
oil-rich Niger Delta since January have reduced crude output,
reducing dollars earned.
The dollar shortage in the OPEC member, whose crude sales
make up two thirds of government revenue, has caused many
companies to halt operations and lay off workers, compounding
the economic crisis.
Traders said the central bank plans to sell "funded forwards
of two to five months tenor" dollars to the targeted sectors at
an auction ahead of the closure of the forex market for the
The central bank is expected to close all foreign exchange
transactions this Friday ahead of its financial year end and the
The naira currency has traded around 305.5 naira to the
dollar on the official interbank market since August, while it
was quoted at 487 to the dollar on the parallel market on
Two weeks ago, the bank had asked commercial lenders to
submit bids for a special intervention auction targeting fuel
importers, but the result of the auction has not yet been
released, traders said.
Africa's largest economy has suffered from an acute shortage
of jet oil used by airlines in the last few months, causing many
operators in the sector to refuel from neighbouring countries,
while flight cancellations by local airlines have become
commonplace as a result of the shortages.
On Monday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said
it had imported about 38.7 million litres of aviation fuel,
which it said "represented about 26-day sufficiency", as part of
its "ensure a hitch-free air travel across the country during
and after the yuletide period".
(Reporting by Oludare Mayowa and Camillus Eboh; Editing by
Alexis Akwagyiram and Toby Chopra)