Nigeria to Bar Exporters Withholding Proceeds From Bank Services

A flame rises from a gas flare stack at the under-construction Dangote Industries Ltd. oil refinery and fertilizer plant site in the Ibeju Lekki district, outside of Lagos, Nigeria, on Friday, March 6, 2020. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, plans to spend more than his net worth of $13.5 billion building one of the world’s biggest oil refineries. Photographer: Tom Saater/Bloomberg
A flame rises from a gas flare stack at the under-construction Dangote Industries Ltd. oil refinery and fertilizer plant site in the Ibeju Lekki district, outside of Lagos, Nigeria, on Friday, March 6, 2020. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, plans to spend more than his net worth of $13.5 billion building one of the world’s biggest oil refineries. Photographer: Tom Saater/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) --

Nigerian exporters that have not repatriated export proceeds will be barred from all banking services from Jan. 31, the central bank said.

The new directive applies to exports up until June last year, central bank spokesman, Osita Nwanisobi said by text message on Saturday. “Proceeds for oil is to be repatriated within 90 days and non-oil within 180 days.”

The measures are part of an effort to defend the country’s currency by targeting importers and exporters with tougher regulations. That’s after a plunge in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic led to dollar shortages in Africa’s largest crude producer resulting in a wide spread between the official exchange rate and the parallel market. The differential of about 25% has created an incentive for exporters to divert forex income to unofficial channels.

Last year, the top lender ordered exporters to register with it through an online portal to ensure the repatriation of proceeds. The Abuja-based regulator has also ordered banks to report exporters that fail to repatriate income earned abroad.