ASRTI flays FG over foreign carriers $464m trapped funds

Aviation industry safety watchdog and think tank group – Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), has expressed its dismay over the appalling handling of accumulated foreign airline funds trapped in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), describing as unacceptable the non- allocation of foreign exchange to the affected carriers.

 In a statement on Friday, the spokesman of the ASRTI, Mr Olumide Ohunayo said the Federal Government was under obligation to allow designated carriers the right to convert and remit to its country on demand, local revenues in excess of the sum locally disbursed.

According to Ohunayo, the refusal of the Nigerian government to allow foreign carriers to repatriate their trapped funds “is already serving as a disincentive to investors in the aviation sector.”

The statement reads:  “In all Bilateral Air Services Agreement an Article in the agreement — transfer of earnings, clearly states that each designated airline shall have the right to convert and remit to its country on demand, local revenues in excess of sums locally disbursed. Conversion and remittance shall be permitted without delay in accordance with the prevailing foreign exchange regulations.

“International trade is bound by agreements which are sacrosanct and respected. Nigeria cannot do otherwise if we crave the attention of investors in our industry.

“It’s important to state that foreign airlines sold these tickets at the official IATA rate and cannot be expected to go to the parallel market to source, convert and remit as opined in some quarters, the Central Bank should do the needful as enshrined in the BASA agreements.

“These funds should have been remitted at the official rate on the date of Sale immediately the Airlines get clearance after paying all the local obligations including taxes.

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