Some Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have further reduced the amount of dollars for Personal Travel Allowance (PTA) and Business Travel Allowance (BTA) to a maximum of twice annually per applicant, to the tune of $2,000 per application.
The banks announced this in emails recently sent to their customers and seen by New Telegraph. One of such emails sent to its customers by FirstBank of Nigeria, entitled: “Important Update on FX Purchase,” partly read: “At FirstBank, we value you and are committed to keeping you informed on changes regarding Foreign Currency (Form A) requests.
“In view of the limited FX supply in the industry, kindly note the following: “Payment of PTA/BTA is subject to a maximum of $2,000 and two quarters in a year, while funds will be dis- bursed within the week of the trip. Customers are encouraged to apply for PTA/BTA some weeks ahead of their trip. “Application for upkeep is subject to a maximum of $1,500 (or its equivalent in other currencies) per semester and limited to 2 semesters per session. “Payment of school fees is subject to a maximum of $7,500 (or its equivalent in other currencies) per semester and limited to 2 semesters per session.”
The email further said that a minimum of 16 weeks is required for processing school fees and upkeep/maintenance, after the submission of documents along with the approved Form A at the branch, adding that application for Form A for school fees, student upkeep and PTA/BTA, must be processed on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Trade Monitoring System (TRMS) and must be in line with regulatory requirements. The bank stressed that requests will continue to be treated on a first come, first served basis, subject to availability of FX. New Telegraph reports that the Form A is an application form designed by the CBN to pay for invisible trade such as foreign tuition, training courses and medical bills.
Nigerians, who have children and wards studying abroad, prefer to use the Form A to access foreign exchange at the official rate given that this is much cheaper than sourcing dollars from the parallel market. In recent years, the scarcity of forex in the system has led DMBs to steadily reduce the amount of dollars that customers can access for PTA/BTA. The banks have also introduced other measures to address forex arbitrage such as mandating travellers in need of dollars – PTA and BTA – to get travel debit cards.
In 2021, the Bankers’ Committee announced that it would use digital processes to track forex transactions, stop fraudsters from abusing the system, and save scarce forex for the economy. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines require that a company can buy up to $5,000 BTA per quarter while an individual is entitled to $4,000 PTA per quarter.
Last year, the Manchester Metropolitan University asked the CBN to speed up the payment of tuition transactions for Nigerians studying in the United Kingdom. The university’s management complained the difficulty experienced by Nigerian students with respect to payment of tuition fees had become a growing concern.
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